It’s no secret that healthcare in Nigeria and most parts of Africa is not easily available and a lot of work needs to be be done in this regard. However, there are cases where accessibility is taken for granted. Take for for example Nigeria where a majority of the population with some form of access to health care would prefer to treat diseases rather than prevent them in the first place.
As a result, people discover life-threatening diseases, especially noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), much later in their lives.. Access to diagnostics and preventive care is essential to remedy this situation, and Nigerian diagnostics startup MDaaS Global is keen to make these services easily accessible.. Today, the startup also announces the launch of its SentinelX product, closed a $ 2.3 million seed extension round across Nigeria.
MDaaS, an abbreviation for medical devices as a service, started in 2016. It operates a network of technological diagnostic centers across Nigeria. Two years ago, he raised a million dollar fundraiser. And memore to other secure investments over the past five years, the healthtech startup has raised a total of $ 3.7 million.
Investors in the round include lead Newtown Partners, which invested through its Imperial Venture Fund, CRI Foundation, and return of investors FINCA companies, Techstars, and Africa of the future.
The idea for MDaaS came when co-founder and CEO Oluwasoga Oni was instructed alongside his classmates in an MIT class. develop an idea that could impact a billion lives. Coming from a medical background, he chose the one with which he could identify.
âI wanted to solve the problem close to me and my father in my early years. He had a 30 bed hospital and struggled so hard to find medical equipment that would suit him and at a good price, âhe told TechCrunch..
Oni started MDaaS with Opeyemi Ologun, Genevieve Barnard Oni and Joseph McCord. Through their relationship in the United States, the founders began to connect the secondary medical equipment market in the United States with Nigeria.. They would import equipment, provide support, and be deployed to hospitals through rent, lease, or sale..
The founders did this for a while until they realized that the main problem was not supplying pieces of equipment; it was a matter of necessity. The money that the doctors spent on the pieces of equipment was more than the income of the patients. That’s why he fair did not make financial sense for physicians to own the equipment.
MDaaS decided to go back to an aggregation model where they would look at a clinically underserved area, build a centralized diagnostic center, and aggregate requests from small and medium-sized hospitals in this community. They launched the first center in the city of Ibadan, in southwestern Nigeria.. The start then entered Techstars and has since added six more centers in other cities in Nigeria.
MDaaS diagnostic centers offer a wide range of services. First, there is imaging services such as digital radiography and ultrasound, cardiac services such as ECG and echo. Then, laboratory services ranging from chemical analysis and immunoassay to hematology.
So how did SentinelX come about? Oni tells me it was during the pandemic last year. As MDaaS helped test patients for COVID, it also took time to screen for underlying health issues.
” We do not have really find a lot of people who had COVID, but what we found was that a lot of people had underlying conditions like high blood pressure and high cholesterol that they didn’t know about. So we were really shocked about it.
Over the past two decades, NCDs have increased dramatically in sub-Saharan Africa. They are driven by an increasing incidence of cardiovascular risk factors such as unhealthy diet, reduced physical activity, high blood pressure and diabetes. Statistics indicate that by 2030, NCDs are expected to become the leading cause of death on the continent.
So far MDaaS has done a fairly good job with its diagnostic centers. To date, the healthcare startup has provided diagnostic services to more than 40,000 patients in underserved communities. He has also performed over 80,000 diagnostic tests in cardiology, radiology, neurology, laboratory and general health checks.. More than 750 clinicians use its referral network and it has established partnerships with more than 500 healthcare establishments and 10 HMO networks.
Therefore, building SentinelX on the infrastructure already in place is an opportunity to deliver more customer-centric products for its users.. The platform acts as a personalized care program where patients pay a one-time fee of N 35,000 (~ $ 70) and access a physician year-round..
Currently, users can perform a series of tests ranging from 60 to 70 biomarkers to assess individual risk for a wide range of diseases, including cancer, diabetes, kidney disease, and heart disease.. Clinical and family history and demographic data are also considered as part of the comprehensive analysis. Meanwhile, MDaaS creates unique care plan for clients if they have health issues after screening.
SentinelX is currently in private beta. However, the plan is to go live in September 2021. You could argue that $ 70 for a year could be cheap for this type of service, Oni agrees but says it’s all about the long game for MDaaS.
âWhat we’re trying to solve is non-consumption. Most Nigerians don’t go to the annual screening, which is supposed to be regularly Finished. Instead, what what we tend to have in Nigeria is that people wait until they are sick before taking exams. At that point, it costs so much money to fix the problem, âOni echoes the nonchalant effort some Nigerians put on their health..
Through SentinelX, MDaaS tries to get as many people as possible to cheap pre-screen yourself for a year, then pay for full value the following year after seeing the benefits of regular checkups. The service is one of the many services that MDaaS can deploy in addition to its diagnostic infrastructure built over the years.. But getting to that point meant the startup had to adapt to the capital hurdle associated with infrastructure games.. In addition, define the price to be charged to patients has even become more difficult due to the economic recession that has frequently hit Nigeria.
âWe’ve had to be very creative in the way we build things because we’re targeting low to middle income patients. As a result, we have necessary to customize our diagnostic infrastructure, especially with regard to the costs for the people we serve, âadded Oni.
The economic recession has also affected one of MDaaS ‘most expensive assets: doctors. Brain drain is a major challenge facing the Nigerian health system today. This has led to a dramatic reduction in the number of Nigerian doctors leaving for better quality of life and better pay, with some reports estimate that more than 2,000 doctors leave each year.
âWhen you hear about it in the news, it seems like a theoretical thing. But for us, it’s real because we have staff going overseas, âsaid the CEO.. MDaaS is trying to tackle the situation by training young doctors and deploying them in its centers. Still, there is some commitment as both parties agree on a period of time that the doctor would work with the company.
By request for funds, MDaaS wants to expand its physical footprint across Nigeria by adding six additional diagnostic centers this year. AHealth tech startup wants to become one of Nigeria’s top three diagnostic centers, says Oni. The CEO also said MDaaS would consider pan-African expansion to similar countries like Nigeria, although he gave no timeline.. But by 2025, the company aims to operate 100 centers across the continent and serve one million patients per year.
Speaking to the news, Llew Claasen, managing partner of Newtown Partners, said: âMost consumers in sub-Saharan Africa receive sub-optimal medical care due to gaps in infrastructure, low density of doctors , delays in diagnoses and lack of visibility of health data.. We think the physical diagnostic infrastructure that MDaaS is building, coupled with the means to collect data and deliver value-added software services, has the potential to completely change the way physicians, clinicians, and pharmacists do their jobs. work and lead to better health outcomes for many previously underserved consumers. ”