Nairobi-based Safaricom Academy is among the leading hubs incubating a range of innovations that are tipped to shake East Africa’s tech scene in the future. TechMoran met Jemimah Kiiru, one of the developers of a new Kenyan app called HEMA that is promising to just trash ‘911’ service. This is what this innovator had to say.
Tell us how your application –HEMA App- works
HEMA (Health Emergency Management App) searches and locates hospitals near the user through the device(s) they are using (Phone/Tablet). The App also provides additional data about the hospitals nearby, such as contact information, available facilities and directions to the hospital. Additionally, user information that is vital for diagnosis is also availed on the app once a valid user logs in.
What was your inspiration behind your app?
I was inspired by the need to have information about the location of hospitals and the kind of services they offer. I could imagine a situation where I was out of Nairobi and I needed medical help. Literarily, it was exhausting locating a hospital in that scenario.
Is it complete?
No. We are just finishing up with Phase 1 of the app. We are currently recruiting tester to pilot the project. At the same time, we are doing more research.
How many are you in this particular project? Give a little background information about your partner(s)?
We are two. Michael Kabugi is the developer and my business partner. We came together to develop this application combining our different skills. I have knowledge of the health facilities in the country and he has the tech development skills.
How long have you been working on your app?
We have been working on it for 6 months now.
How has iLab or Safaricom helped you in building the app?
iLab has mentored use during this process. They inspire us to deliver. They mentor and offer learning options. They were the first people to let us know we had something worth pursuing. iLab has also offered us an opportunity to pitch and meet investors.
Who is your target market? And why would they want to work with you?
We are targeting all Kenyans with smartphones as well as medical insurance companies. The insurance companies would greatly benefit from issuing the app as a value added service to its clients.
From what you have explained it’s easy to tell that your target users are at the range of middle-class and high, will you consider the lower class in future?
Yes, assuming those (middle-class and high class) are the majority users of smart phones. In regards to how the app works especially with mapping, we are not considering an option for phones that cannot support it
What’s the difference between you and 911?
We have integrated mapping and provided quick access to verified vital patient information. That gives you the option to help yourself where you can or ask for help. In the ideal situation where 911 would be able to use your phone to track your location, then we would have a competitor who we would be willing to work with.
Given that some medical cases are sensitive do you think you will get people to use your app?
Yes. The app is specifically to be used when in need of emergency help. I imagine no matter how sensitive a situation is, at that point all one needs is to be assisted. The user information is stored securely on our servers and is issued voluntarily. We have also implemented password security to keep personal and sensitive information safe.
Won’t it take long in the case of an emergency situation…let’s say if a person has fainted or broken a bone?
I imagine not. Say your friend broke their leg during a training session. You have no idea where the closest hospital is. On top of that, they are insured with AAR and you’re not sure if the closest hospital to you accepts the AAR card. That is where HEMA comes in. You can opt to drive there using the directions on the app or request for an ambulance from the hospital.
Speaking of fainting, how will you get information from an unconscious person?
The app is tailored for use by conscious persons. So hopefully the person near them has the app. However, a situation like fainting is something you feel before you actually collapse. If the user had the chance to ask for assistance, I imagine the ambulance would be able to find them using their phone’s location. If the unconscious person is taken to a facility that has access to the HEMA database, the patient’s information can be retrieved fast and easily. This provides the hospital with the patient’s vital information such as their allergies, blood group and known or existing conditions that would be important for diagnosis and/or treatment.
Any pilot project done so far?
We are currently recruiting users to test the app.
Have you approached any investors? If so how did it go?
We have been approached by an investor though we want to have a complete product before we venture in that direction.
Anything else we need to know about you or the app
The whole point of designing and developing this app is to help Kenyans by providing access to information about the healthcare facilities close to them and their location. All these are available at their fingertips. The app is currently available on android platform for mobile phones and tablets. The App versions for other platforms are already under development and will be coming up soon.