Connectmed seeks to increasing access to primary healthcare in Africa

ConnectMed is an innovative health-tech company that connects patients to doctors. In most African countries, the high population has resulted in an inadequate ratio of doctors to patients. Many people still don’t have ready access to a medical practitioner near them, much less one from a private facility where services are better. Connectmed is bridging this gap. So far it has been used by 7500+ patients and its first in-pharmacy telehealth kiosk network is present in over 30 pharmacies. TechMoran spoke to ConnectMed about their company’s activities and their vision for the future.

Tell us about yourselves; your team, your educational and professional backgrounds
The team is comprised of co-founders Melissa McCoy and Chris Harding, along with Chief Business Development Officer Dismus Masheti. Melissa (Rhodes Scholar, MSc CompSci and MBA at Oxford) and Chris (ex-Palantir, MA CompSci at Cambridge) bring their combined expertise in applied machine learning, data analytics, start-ups, and consumer product development. Dismus has over a decade of experience selling and marketing medical services and pharmaceuticals to healthcare institutions across Kenya.

How would you best describe Connectmed briefly, what does it do?
ConnectMed is a digital health company focused on increasing access to primary health care in Africa. We’ve built Kenya’s first video-based doctor consultation platform used by over 7500 patients, its first in-pharmacy telehealth kiosk network with presence in over 30 pharmacies, and its first digital chronic disease management platform with over 500 subscribed patients. We’ve also served corporate clients like Kenya’s largest pharmacy chain (Goodlife Pharmacy), Kenya’s largest private insurer (Jubilee Insurance), and the Abraaj Group. Finally, we’ve raised over $300k in funding from supporters like Entrepreneur First and Katapult Accelerator, grown the team to 18 people, and reached $6k in monthly recurring revenue. This news feature (youtu.be/UNRx4lHSTMA) and testimonial video (youtu.be/N_yNyqMTJZo) explains more about our initiatives.

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What market gap did you spot that motivated you to start this company?
It’s expensive to access primary healthcare from private facilities and difficult/inconvenient to access it from public facilities. We’ve focused on creating affordable convenient primary healthcare solutions through technology.

Who is your target market?
We generally say it’s the middle 60% of the population. The bottom 20% would still struggle to afford our services and the top 20% can afford private healthcare so our value proposition isn’t as strong to them.

How does your company make money?
We sell digital doctor consultations for acute cases directly to consumers through our web & smartphone apps ($6 per consult) and through our in-pharmacy telehealth kiosks ($2.50 and $5 per consult depending on the pharmacy). We also make revenue through our digital chronic disease programs ($7 – 15 per month depending on the program) which is becoming the core focus of the company. We also served the Abraaj Group hospitals in a $30k contract.

Who would you say is your major competition in this space at the moment?
International telehealth players (Omada & Vida in the US for coaching; Teledoc in US & Babylon in the UK for consults) tend to focus on a single aspect of care (coaching or consultations) and slot this into a mature, well-developed health system with a business model based around private health insurance. Local players (AfyaPap in Kenya & mDoc in Nigeria for content; Kangpe in Nigeria & Babyl in Rwanda for consults) have so far copied international players in focusing on a single aspect of care. We provide a full-service package that combines virtual interventions (consults and coaching) with physical testing and medications, given African patients demand and will only pay for a full-service solution.

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What is your vision for the company in the next 5 years? What is your plan for expansion? Any new products coming soon?
We plan to expand out our subscription programs to include mental health, sexual health, and other wellness solutions. We also hope to re-start operations in South Africa in the next 2 years, and in Nigeria in the next 4.

At the moment, how do you measure your own success? What are your metrics?
At the moment, we focus on customer acquisition cost and customer retention. If we hit our goals for these metrics, we will feel confident about raising further funds and scaling our service aggressively.

What advice would you give to upcoming entrepreneurs?
From the start of the company to seed round, you should be spending 90% of your time and resources on understanding your customer, making quick iterations on the product, and seeing what gains traction; only 10% of your time/resources should be on tech development (it helps if you have someone technical on your founding team). Too many entrepreneurs focus the first year of their startup on developing the tech before it ever reaches a real customer.

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