• Startups
  • HearX Group makes hearing screening more accessible

    In 2015, eHNA reported on a South African start-up, HearX Group, founded by Prof De Wet Swanepoel and Dr Herman Myburgh.  They developed a low-cost smartphone app that detects hearing loss and connects patients to health services.  

    The product uses a smartphone and headphones along with a custom-developed software application to detect hearing loss.  This inexpensive alternative to conventional screening is 50-70% less expensive and can be administered by non-specialists and screeners with even basic literacy and low digital skills.

    Today, the company boasts a suite of apps and mHealth devices geared towards improving hearing screening in underserved and remote communities, and especially among children.  Other products included in their collection include hearZA, mHealthStudio, hearTest and hearDigits, as well as a partner product in vision called Peek Acuity.  

    Now, HearX group has taken their solution beyond Africa.  A recent collaboration with the American Academy of Audiology saw the launch of America’s first-ever intensive hearing screening mobile app, hearScreen USA.  This was launched at the Academy’s annual conference April 2018 and is freely available on smartphone devices.

    In many nations, the general awareness of hearing impairment is low and shortage of resources has caused a lack of screening programmes.  HearX Group could soon be turning this into a problem of the past with further collaborations in Africa, Europe and Asia.

  • Cape Town’s eHealth accelerator programme offers opportunities for graduates

    Many of us have good ideas. Turning them into action is often harder.  Cape Town's Accelerator Programmes aims to help. It offers opportunities for graduates to access finance and work experience to turn their ideas into a viable business.

    There are two pilot programmes. Accelerator two opens for applications on the 15th March 2018. Accelerator one has announced its eight finalists. They participate in a ten week online programme and have face to face interactions with their mentors. 

    Business coaches in eHealth started on the 23rd January 2018. The course extends over 10 weeks. There is one topic each week taking about ten hours. Finalists take part in discussions about health problems and solutions. Strategic planning, alignment to health-care environments, defining and marketing proposals are the main themes.  Discussions on topics relevant to running a profitable and beneficial eHealth business are included too.

    Finalists are :

    Petrus Van Niekerk :  Udok allows doctors to interact with patients who are far away as well as administer treatment and monitor patient careDr William Mapham : Vula Mobile is a system which allows doctors to refer patients to specialists in tertiary hospitals Dr Anuschka Coovadia : HealthAtHome is a company that will provide patients with the best care from the comfortability of their homes at an affordable price. Brighton Khumalo : ConnecTB is an online tool which allows health care providers to register and monitor TB patientsNicole Van Der Merwe : GeneCare Molecular Genetics will provide patients with access to customised diet plans as well as exercise programmes which will be accompanied by educational video coachingDr Musaed Abrahams : Aviro Health has developed an app that will mentor nurses in primary health care to efficiently treat patients with HIVSuretha Erasmus : GC Network  has developed a pregnancy screening app that educates pregnant mother of their individual risk for a chromosome abnormality as well as provides detailed information regarding available prenatal testing which will help the mothers make informed decisionsVere Shaba : RAR Group VRHEALTH is a company that created a virtual yet realistic world for substance abuse patients who have been placed in a rehabilitation to develop new behavioral patterns through the virtual world Is the programme a model for Africa’s other health systems? It offers a smart way to encourage and develop Africa’s budding eHealth entrepreneurs. 

  • EMGuidance web-platform to simplify medication look-up in South Africa

    Since the launch of their clinical support platform in 2016, EMGuidance has become one of the most popular medical apps in South Africa, even extending to other parts of the globe.  Its popularity is largely due to the comprehensive, up-to-date and locally relevant clinical guides and protocols made easily available to health professionals.

    In fact, the response from health professionals has been so great that EMGuidance is now available as a web-based platform.  The web-based platform essentially functions as a Google search engine with a twist.  This niche search engine only returns locally relevant information – fulfilling a great gap in clinical support tools in South Africa.  Health professionals will now be able to search for relevant South African therapies by trade name, active ingredient or registered indication. 

    Realising the potential for other African countries, EMGuidance has launched a slim-line version of their tool in Sierra Leone.  The positive response from the local community has spurred plans to expand to Kenya, Tanzania and other African countries.  It’s activities and initiatives like EMGuidance that will springboard eHealth in Africa to first-world healthcare delivery.

  • Are Africa’s eHealth start-ups on the move?

    Africa’s health systems need a vibrant eHealth start-up environment that provides local solutions. It’s good news that the number of Africa’s eHealth start-ups is rising. Most don’t leverage mHealth.

    The report from the start-up portalDisrupt Africa High Tech Health: Exploring the African E-health Startup Ecosystem Report 2017, identified 115 eHealth start-ups in 20 African countries, about 37%. It reveals the need to stimulate eHealth start-ups in the other 63%.

    Investment’s increasing too, especially finance for businesses growth. The combined eHealth start-up investment’s exceeds US$19 million. Most eHealth start-ups in the report don’t use mHealth. It’s about 44%. 

    Niche solutions are an important component of Africa’s eHealth investment. As demand and opportunities expand, especially for mHealth, the scope for Africa’s eHealth supply side can expand with it. A report in Standard Digital summarises the landscape using data from the 20 countries over three years from Disrupt Africa, it says about 73% of Africa’s eHealth ventures provide mHealth solutions. Local eHealth innovators are emerging in Uganda, Ghana, Egypt, and Senegal. Start-ups launching across Africa has increased over three years. Investors are starting to support start-ups planning to grow expand.

    Africa has an estimated 115 eHealth start-ups. About 28%, 32, are in East Africa. Nearly half of these, 15, of East Africa’s eHealth start-ups in are in Kenya, about 13% of Africa’s total. They may be confronting challenges in attracting finance, unlike reported significant investment in other countries in the region. Does it mean that the available finance’s being spread more evenly, or is it because better investment opportunities are emerging from other countries?

    Total investment in eHealth start-ups over the period is estimated at US$19 million. Kenya start-ups raised US$379,600, under 2%.

    Africa.com has a different perspective. Its report identifies Tunisia emerging as the next eHealth hub. It says there are more than 300 African tech start-ups, 54, 18%, in South Africa , 27, 9%, in Kenya, 23, 8% in Nigeria and 15, 5%, in Tunisia. After creating a successful incubator in Kenya, Merck will launch a start-up incubator in Tunisia by 2019 to collaborate with innovative eHealth start-ups.

    It’s not all rosy. Several challenges to growth are seen as access to finance, uncertain policies, competition from established brands and finding and recruiting talent. 

    Africa’s eHealth strategies need to parallel these initiatives. They’re creating opportunities to improve health and healthcare.

  • eHealth start-up EMGuidance wins SA’s Seedstars

    Talent competitions are always good motivators for contestants, especially those who top the list. The winners of the South African stage of the Seedstars World competition, EMGuidance, an eHealth start-up’ll be highly focused on the next round. The team’ll be competing for a US$500,000 funding stream at the global final in Switzerland.

     An article in Disrupt Africa EMGuidance was chosen from ten finalists from its early-stage start-ups competition. Its largely about solving a fundamental problem for the medical profession: how to aggregate medical content from regional experts into one place. Its app does it by allowing for fast access to diverse but reliable data. 

    Zlto, a digital rewards platform incentivising its users for positive behaviour, was runner-up. It uses a mobile wallet to access a marketplace. Empty Trips came third, with an online trip exchange using algorithms and transport auctions to fill empty spaces to places.

    Fanny Dauchez, associate for Seedstars World Africa, told Disrupt Africa that “We had a pleasure of meeting talented entrepreneurs from different cities and backgrounds in South Africa, and seeing them do such an amazing job representing themselves and their start-ups on this big South Africa finals stage.”  Hopefully, it won’t be too long before EMGuidance’s and the other competitors solutions are used across all Africa.

  • eHealth SME start-ups aren’t booming yet

    As a relatively new and constantly changing industry, eHealth can expect the role of Small to Medium-sized Enterprises (SME) to provide a significant contribution. Africa’s eHealth success could depend on them. An EU survey of over 300 European eHealth SMEs by eHealth Hub produced some surprises that highlight issues for Africa’s eHealth.

    About 39% of eHealth SMEs are in pre-revenue stages. Some 43% have revenues below €100,000. Taken together, that’s 82% in early development stages.

    These point to an EU market that’s still maturing. While this may be the state of the SMEs, their solutions may be further ahead. Pascal Lardier, executive director at Health 2.0 says demonstration apps for Health 2.0 Europe have shown a consistent maturity over several years. His conclusion’s that the supply side is maturing faster than demand by consumers and healthcare.

    He’s also surprised that most SMEs, almost an even split for a total of about two thirds, work on B2B or B2B2C solutions:

    The EU differs from the US where the bulk of investment’s for B2C solutions. In the EU, it’s about 8%. It may be that the EU’s investment flow may be greater if B2C initiatives were stronger, with Europeans spending more as health consumers?

    83% of SMEs surveyed stated they were currently looking for funding. Their investors’ most important criterion remains commercial traction. About 37% of these start-ups also said they’d already raised a round of external capital, with 38% of that subset having raised over €1 million. Indicating that raising investment money without revenues is viable.

    Finding the right investors needs a combination of the right idea with the right plan to turn it into a successful business, Pascal Lardier’s advice’s to adopt an old “Ask for money and you'll get advice, ask for advice and you'll get money." Will this work for Africa’s eHealth SMEs?

  • Merck picks a Ghanaian start-up for its accelerator

    It’s good to see African start-ups recognised by big, global business. Merck, a global healthcare and pharmaceutical firm, has chosen Peach Health Technologies (PHT), a Ghanaian start-up and two from the US to be part its third eHealth accelerator event in Nairobi, Kenya. PHT’s developed a cloud-based EHR for hospitals in developing countries.

    An article in Disrupt Africa says Merck launched its eHealth accelerator programme in Nairobi alongside its successful event in Germany. The aim’s to foster the growth of Africa’s high potential, early stage eHealth start-ups. The Merck Accelerator Africa programme runs for three months. Selected eHealth start-ups are provided with finance with no equity taken in return, coaching, mentoring and access to Merck’s global networks.

    In the first two rounds of the programme, Merck offered start-ups US$15,000. For this stage, it’s increased to US$30,000.

    The US companies are RxAll and Secure Data Kit (SDK). RxAll’s developed an AI platform for pharmacies to authenticate medicines in Africa. SDK has a programme for data management of global health supply chains.

    All three can benefit Africa’s health systems. It’ll be good to see their solutions deployed soon.

  • There are plenty of eHealth startups to watch out for in 2017

    Technology and startups keep growing across Africa as more people search for unique solutions to everyday problems. Disrupt Africa monitors technology startups on the continent and recently published a report identifying South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya as the top three destinations for technology investors in 2016, both in terms of numbers of deals and total funding.

    A Disrupt Africa list now sets out the top technology start-ups for 2017, ITNEWS Africa  selected ten start-ups it predicts will influence the market this year. Of the ten innovations, three are in healthcare. They are:

    Flare, a Kenyan start-up. Its app aggregates available ambulances onto a single system and allows patients or hospitals to request emergency help using a smartphone. Flare underwent testing with ambulances throughout 2016 ahead of the release of an Uber-style consumer-facing app.

    Jumaii. a Tanzanian company. Its app provides a mobile micro-health insurance product for low income and informal sectors. It’s built a mobile policy management platform that performs all the administrative activities of an insurer and allows users to access cheap insurance. Jamii won the Tanzania Seedstar World competition and is set to launch in Kenya, Uganda, Ghana, Nigeria and South Africa in 2017.

    Dr CADx, a Zimbabwean start-up founded in 2016. It’s developing a computer-aided diagnostic system to help doctors diagnose medical images more accurately and provide pervasive radiology diagnostics in regions that don’t have radiologists. The solution’s designed to be used by medical professionals on existing computers and tablets. Dr CADx is able to diagnose most diseases but the start-up’s initial focus is on lung diseases such as tuberculosis, pneumonia and lung cancer, as well as head injuries and breast cancer. Dr CADx was named winner of the Zimbabwean edition of Seedstars World.

    All the best to the startups. We’re looking forward to reporting on your successes on eHNA soon.

  • Israeli start-ups are innovating for Africa

    Israel recently celebrated its mHealth week. Leaders and experts put their heads together to help solve global mHealth challenges. The week culminated on 18 February with the flagship event, the mHealth Israel conference.

    In a panel called Meet the new boss: Market leaders and the empowered healthcare consumer, Jeremy Sohn, Vice President and Head of Digital Business Development and Licensing at Novartis said, “Israel is a startup capital. I come here to be inspired really; Israel is constantly pushing the limits of innovation.” Sohn is not alone. Many eHealth and mHealth companies have R&D centres in Israel, and others flew in top level executives for the event.

    In line with this innovative and entrepreneurial spirit, the conference hosted an mHealth start-up contest, featuring the following finalists:

    Biopmedical: Innovative device for screening cervical and other epithelial cancers. Taliaz diagnostics: Personal tailoring of psychotropic medications based on an individual’s genetic profile io: Using virtual reality for stroke patient rehabilitation Intensix: Applying machine learning to big data to predict when critical care patients will deteriorate 6 over 6: Using a smartphone to accurately diagnose vision problems Datos Health: Data management solution for patient-generated data MedAware: Using machine learning on big medical data to more accurately identify prescription errors in real-time, while mitigating ‘alert fatigue’

    Despite very tough competition, six claimed a first prize, and will receive an all expenses paid business development trip to Houston, Texas. There, they’ll exhibit at the Health Tech conference in Houston, meet C-level executives at the Texas Medical Center and the Houston Methodist Hospital, and be entered as finalists in two start-up contests: the Medica App Competition and the MedCity News INVEST .

    Another key feature of the conference was the 1x1 meetings session, organized by the Israel-Europe R&D Directorate (ISERD) and the Enterprise Europe Network (EEN). This is in line with the conference’s objective of strengthening collaborations between Israel and other eHealth markets and users. Attendees from Europe, Africa, Asia, and North America were in attendance, aiming to connect investors, entrepreneurs, and suppliers and users to forge meaningful cross-border partnerships.

    Private investors, venture capitalists, business angels, incubators, and accelerators constituted a major portion of the attendees, all in search of the next Israeli start-up to revolutionize the mHealth scene. Israel has a very strong track record of producing successful start-ups, boasting the highest per capita venture capitalist investment in the world. Some of the investors looking to bring these innovations to market see Africa and Asia as the most relevant markets. It will be important for them to ensure that they’re engaging African stakeholders throughout the development process, rather than simply bringing a finished product to African markets. Keep your eyes out for some of these and other Israeli mHealth services as they reach African users!

  • MTN and mLabs support young mHealth entrepreneurs

    Thirty young developers from Khayelitsha and Gugulethu townships in South Africa are competing in the MTN SA Foundation Community App Challenge in partnership with mLab. To win they have to produce the best apps in the education and health categories, says an article in IT-Online.

    The challenge aims to empower young developers who want to start their own businesses and make a difference in their communities. The overall winners will qualify to enter the 2016 MTN Business App of the Year Awards as well as financial support towards advertisement of the winning app.

    “We are very excited to be partnering with mLab for the MTN SA Foundation Community App Challenge. Such initiatives support our strategic intent of creating sustainable value for our stakeholders as well as developing a force of entrepreneurs who have the right skills set to grow their business, contribute to the growth of the economy and create much-needed jobs,” says Kusile Mtunzi-Hairwadzi, GM of the MTN SA Foundation.

    The previous winners included Voonja App, a community announcement solution, New Start App that deals with male circumcision issues and Pink Drive, an app that deals with breast and prostate cancer. Each of these apps were awarded R30 000 worth of advertising and were incubated and mentored by mLab for a year. 

    An expert panel of judges is currently adjudicating the prototypes of the 30 talented graduate app developers. eHNA wishes all the best to the participants.