Kenyan health companion Nadia helps users consult with doctors in real-time

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With demand for telemedicine services surging in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Kenyan startup Nadia is ideally positioned for pan-African growth.

A personalised automated health companion app, Nadia provides users with access to consultations with doctors in real-time.

The startup specialises in telemedicine for non-urgent primary care in order to both save its users time and money, and reduce the strain on healthcare infrastructure. 

“This has taken on a more profound meaning in the response to the COVID-19 crisis,” co-founder Olamide Akomalafe told Disrupt Africa.

Nadia was formed in early 2019 after Akomalafe and fellow co-founders Ahmed Elmi, Victor Okech and Funsho Olaniyi met at the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST) in Accra.

“We had shared our concerns about the state of the primary healthcare system and how non-urgent primary care could be delivered more efficiently at a high quality,” said Akomalafe.

Together, the four built Nadia, which connects patients and doctors remotely for non-urgent primary care, referring any complex case to specialists. 

“We handle the most straightforward cases which millions of people tend to fall into and can be easily sorted out. This gives our partners in the diagnostics and lab fields predictable  requests or orders,” Akomalafe said. 

“While for our insurance partners, it means cost savings as we are able to take care of their customers’ most common problems at an affordable and convenient level. That is our company vision and mission.”

Nadia currently has 400 active users for its second phase beta, but is in the process of opening up its product to help ease the pressure on on-ground infrastructure during the pandemic. The startup, which received US$100,000 in pre-seed funding from MEST upon graduating from the programme, has seen a surge in uptake as a result of COVID-19, with thousands of visitors to its website.

“We are now moving into subscription to keep access to non-urgent primary as affordable as possible per our company mission. We are in a few talks with insurance providers and a select few facilities to bring our solution to bear in their objective of keeping their patients at home but healthy during this crisis,” said Akomalafe.

Though its head office is in Nairobi, Nadia is already a pan-African entity, and its solution is also available in Nigeria, Ghana and Tanzania. Akomalafe said it is pursuing a physical expansion policy across the continent.

“We currently operate in Kenya and plan on running minimal beta trials in a few markets before we select our next markets. We definitely plan on expanding to Nigeria, and will run our beta trial there within this year. We are open to everyone as we accept several forms of payments and the currency adjusts to their location,” he said.

Nadia charges a commission on each consultation fee, but during the COVID-19 crisis it has significantly lowered its prices and is offering a free coronavirus risk assessment to help as many people access accurate information and medical attention as possible. 

“That price will go up once the COVID-19 crisis subsides and normality returns, but our commitment to keep it as affordable as possible while maintaining a fair balance for our medical partners will remain,” Akomalafe said. “We will be moving into subscriptions from this quarter onwards after serious demand for it since the COVID-19 crisis caused a rethink on telemedicine in many households.”

Nadia is one of the 180 African e-health startups featured in Disrupt Africa’s latest report – High Tech Health: Exploring the E-health Startup Ecosystem Report 2020. The report finds Africa’s e-health sector is booming as startup numbers and investment levels have reached record highs, and looks at the impact of COVID-19 on the development of the sector.

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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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