This SA startup uses tech to make healthcare lean

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In a private healthcare clinic in Johannesburg CBD, a local startup is employing technology to make South African healthcare provision more lean.

GetHealth was launched in February of last year, with its clinic opened in September 2015. Since then, over 4,000 people have come through its doors to experience the leaner, more efficient provision of healthcare the startup has to offer.

The services offered at the clinic are very similar to what one would receive from a private GP, but much more affordable. Patients are assessed by health coaches from the local community, before they are forwarded through to GetHealth’s clinical associates, who are healthcare professionals.

It is the way these patients are triaged that is revolutionary, with GetHealth having developed an electronic health record (EHR) system that makes the process of delivering healthcare services more efficient.

The health coaches triage and determine the chief complaint of the patient. As they are triaging them, an algorithm is working in the background determining the patient who is most in need of instant attention, through a scoring mechanism.

These scores are then sent through to the clinical associates, who treat the highest scoring patients first. Once they have dealt with them they move on down the scoring matrix.

“The gap we spotted comprises of the lack of affordable quality health services to the lower income earners in South Africa,” Trevor Brewer, co-founder and chief executive officer (CEO) of GetHealth, told Disrupt Africa.

“We are targeting the middle 40 per cent of the population who earn a salary but cannot afford current private healthcare prices, though they require a higher service level than what is available in the public sector.”

GetHealth, Brewer said, falls between private GPs and public clinics as it is more affordable than a private doctor but has a higher quality than public healthcare. The aim is to provide an integrated delivery system that ensures accessibility and high quality healthcare at an affordable price for all.

“This will empower the 80 per cent of the population who are reliant on public healthcare, by improving their options when it comes to choosing their primary healthcare providers,” he said.

GetHealth’s EHR also allows it to have remote clinical governance to ensure quality outcomes are achieved, as each patient can be analysed to determine if the diagnosis made and medication dispensed is in accordance with their symptoms.

“Our systems are also mobile device compliant. It can be used without any internet connection but will need to be synced at the end of the day to ensure the information is stored and an analysis can be made,” Brewer said.

It has proven popular, both in terms of footfall and feedback. The startup, which is currently funded by a high net worth individual but looking at raising more capital, has ambitious plans to expand across the country, as well as across Africa.

Brewer said the scalability of its tiered delivery model made expansion easy.

“We use members of the community to facilitate the healthcare experience. We will scale through a franchise model, but want to open an additional three clinics in April next year,” he said.

GetHealth makes money through a fee-for-service model, where individuals pay cash for their consultations. It does, however, have a “membership” model that will include monthly payments for a limited number of consultations. Having recently restructured its model, meaning revenue will be an estimated 35 per cent of costs, it is yet to make a profit.

Driving patient numbers will be crucial to its success, hence why scaling is so important.

“The difficulty comes in taking someone who is not used to paying for healthcare in the public sector to start paying for it by showing values, such as no queues, compassionate staff, great facilities and the fact it is much more affordable than other private healthcare services,” Brewer said.

“The patient number growth rate has been much slower than anticipated but we trying unique marketing techniques to drive the patient numbers.”

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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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