🦄 vol. 57
blessed (feature) chats about telehealth in africa 🌍
sticking to tuesdays for now, blessed did the things, just as he did working in the insurance space at discovery. after a few successful stints in corporate, he’s broken into the startup space, now focusing on eden healthcare. today, he’s here to chat about telehealth in africa.
imagine a healthy, happy africa 🌍
At 2.7%, Africa is the continent with the lowest insurance penetration rate - a long way away from the global average of ~7.2%. And as you can imagine, health insurance only makes up a fraction of the pie. But why’s it so low? 🤔Although hard to pin-point, here are some of the factors that could be contributing to this:
💰 Low average disposable income.
📚 A lack of trust and poor financial literacy.
🧱A lack of infrastructure and poor distribution channels.
👎 Last, but not least, insurance models that are not quite fit for market.
The opportunity: Africa’s mobile future ☀️
The 2019 study titled The Mobile Economy Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) shed some light on this…
🤑 In 2019, the mobile economy generated 9% of GDP in the region, and supported more than 3.8 million jobs.
📱 By 2025, SSA will have over 1 billion mobile connections, of which 65% will be smartphones.
💸 Mobile money has taken off in SSA as the main form of digital payment and financial channel. This significant penetration has spurred new business models layered on top of mobile-money.
🏦 In 2019, ~14 million insurance policies were sold through mobile money in Africa with the top 3 product offerings comprising of life/funeral insurance (32%), accident/disability insurance (19%), and health insurance (12%).
The smartphone penetration does not only enable digital payments but also enables the development of a digital healthcare ecosystem. And the implementation of healthcare insurance products such as telehealth.
What is it about telehealth? 💭
It seems like UC 🦄 has a thing for this topic, as Potter from vol. 34 spoke to this too. Telehealth is essentially the delivery and facilitation of health-related services via telecommunications and digital communication technologies. It has the ability to address all of the aforementioned problems, especially those related to underserved markets.
What needs to be taken into consideration? 🤔
The beauty with telehealth is that when operated correctly, everyone will receive the same care. Keeping this in mind, underserved markets must be a focal point when building the offering. A few factors cater to this:
⚡️ Broadband connectivity: Telehealth providers should mitigate barriers to internet access by partnering with cellular networks or building text messaging services.
📱 Devices accessibility: Telehealth solutions should cater for both smartphone and feature phone devices.
🏥 Availability and affordability of health services: Telehealth solutions should seek to create broader access to health services at a fraction of a price.
💿 Data health system interoperability: Integrating various health data streams helps to improve patient care and speed up the development of new treatments. However, integrating with various Electronic Health Records (EHR) systems is complex yet essential to creating a sophisticated and intuitive telehealth product.
The problem? A data draught 🌵
Globally, data and analytics have been interlaced in every sector of the economy and have become core to operations and strategies for most businesses. Mastering this emerging space is key to companies establishing a competitive moat and outperforming their competitors.
The lack of capital, infrastructure, talent, and awareness amongst healthcare professionals has limited the adoption of basic data tools by African healthcare organisations. Up-to-date data on healthcare metrics, outside of the Global Burden of Disease, is few and far between. This has made healthcare in the continent a black box.
Is data the recipe? 👨🏾🍳
💡 Players that use data to create a forensic understanding of their patient pool and transform that into timely, tailored, preventative health interventions will gain a sustainable competitive advantage.
🛠 Big data allows for an ever-narrower segmentation of customers and, therefore, much more precise tailored products and services.
🏷 Better pricing of products and quality care for the African context will be enabled by healthcare data lakes. The absence of this data has resulted in insurance companies pricing their products “blindly” and sadly further overlooking the majority of our population.
The long game ♕
Discovery did it first and they did it right. Your health is connected to everything, embedding wellness into healthcare products ensures the sustainability and affordability of private healthcare, while enabling patients to make healthy choices to drive healthy lifestyles.
Integrating health records to better build and price healthcare products, underpinned by emerging and robust technologies that enable the consumption of digital healthcare solutions, will be central to Africa’s digital health transformation.
In my eyes, it’s clear. A happy and healthy Africa lies on the bed of innovation in healthcare.
karl enjoyed this tweet by luke mostert on the power law of vc, what makes a company vc backable?
sash thinks you should register for google for africa (happening tomorrow)