Kenyan startup Ponea gains momentum in driving access to medical services • TechCrunch

kenyan series technology entrepreneur Mike Masharya It has spent the past two decades helping organizations like Safaricom, East Africa’s largest telecoms company, create the infrastructure that fuels its growth. his company, Seven Seas TechniquesI also previously worked with governments – having been involved in the initial implementation of decentralized service delivery centers – Demolition centerswhich allows citizens to access almost all government services through a single portal.

A few years ago, the Kenyan government also contracted with Macharia to build deserted now The National Hospital Information System, which he says would have changed the way health care was delivered in the country. But the end of this project, in 2019, didn’t kill his creativity; Instead, I inspired him to launch it Ponia Health as a market for healthcare services.

“The end of this project provided a moment of self-reflection, and I realized that I had spent my whole life building hardware and software for organizations. But I had never really thought about building technology for us (the masses). I decided to build from the bottom up, and that is how Ponea was born,” said Macharia, President Startup Visual Executive (CVO), for TechCrunch.

A personal emergency confirmed the timing of the idea.

“I was driving from my house, and I had a nosebleed, and that was the second time it had happened. I got in touch with my doctor, and he recommended some tests. But I guess he was suspicious that I wouldn’t take them; it was a busy day anyway. So. , sent a lab technician to my office to take samples.After the results and a doctor’s review, I called a pharmacy that used a passenger to deliver the drugs.

“In that moment, I realized that everything is there. The doctors, the labs, the pharmacy, the payment and delivery providers are there, but why aren’t they connected to each other? I found out that no one had tried to integrate this entire ecosystem into one. It was something we needed to do. Why not? ?”

This is how he set out to build Ponea as a “truly patient-centric platform”.

Ponea Health is a multi-tiered marketplace that brings together patients, healthcare and other providers including those in the payment space.

It makes it easy for users to select doctors, facilities and/or healthcare packages based on various factors including need, location and fees – the cost is also included during listing.

Once the user contacts a doctor, and depending on the severity of their conditions, the consultation takes place physically or physically. Where the doctor recommends the tests, Bonya connects the patient to a laboratory provider to collect samples.

said Macharia, who co-founded Ponea with Akshay Shah.

He added that the whole process is customer driven and backed by a call center (medical operations center) that ensures a smooth process for the patient, from the moment of check-in to the time of drug delivery.

To be listed on the Ponea platform, providers are first screened and ranked using its rating system, which uses data from the government’s database and physician certifications. Besides, patients can also rate providers based on specific metrics, which helps to rank doctors according to customer experience and satisfaction.

Founded in June 2019, Ponea has partnered with more than 400 health and wellbeing professionals, as well as over 15,000 customers, since January of last year, with a conversion rate of 54% as people increasingly seek telehealth, following growth from the coronavirus outbreak. in the sector. The uptake comes as telehealth is said to be bridging the healthcare access gap in Africa, the continent with the world’s largest disease burden and the lowest ratio of patients to doctors.

With the continued adoption of telehealth, Ponea aims to increase its customer base by 500,000 customers in the next three years, and establish a presence in four other markets including South Africa, Nigeria, Egypt and Morocco.

“We built a scalable product that easily integrates with others because right from the start, we set out to build a platform that should work in any part of the world. This means we don’t build what’s available. We look at strategic engagement by allowing API integration on a global level. Masharya said.

“We have found great companies both globally and locally that we work with in amazing ways, and this includes a global mental health symptom tester that we are currently evaluating, and it will soon be integrated into our platform,” he said, adding that the platform is able to collect data from wearables as well.

Ponea’s offering includes a chronic disease management component for patients and their caregivers such as nurses to help synchronize information and data for better disease monitoring.

The startup also caters to small and medium businesses or companies that cannot afford comprehensive insurance, or those who are looking for outpatient services only. Employees can access services from a list of pre-selected providers, and unlike insurance, the Ponea wallet balance does not expire.

To date, Ponea has attracted $4.3 million in funding from Afya Partners, Shield Capital, Seven Seas Technologies and a number of angel investors including Bhavesh Shah, Herman Langen, Franciscus Olsthoorn and Kalpesh Mehta.

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