NIGERIA – Nigerian startup MediSpark, which describes itself as “Truepill for Africa”, is busy building an ecosystem of APIs (Application Programming Interface) and SaaS tools to synchronize data across Africa’s fragmented healthcare systems.
MediSpark is the brainchild of Ugo Nwokoro and Gbenga Oyeniyi, who have known and worked together since 2016. Nwokoro and his family have been in the healthcare business for two generations – running hospitals, pharmacies and laboratories.
He is also a product manager and UX designer, while Oyeniyi has been programming for over 10 years and built ed-tech platforms for universities and secondary schools.
“We started working on MediSpark in 2017 after both working in a hospital together and witnessing the challenges ourselves,” Nwokoro said. “We released a rough MVP in 2018 and started selling. But we only went full-time in January this year when we decided we’d understood the market well enough, and were ready to build a second version of our product and raise money.”
Initially, Medispark gave hospitals, labs and other healthcare providers access to software to manage their operations and keep digital records. Nwokoro said this was so its APIs would have something to connect to, with these APIs at the center of the startup’s work.
“Our APIs will eliminate manual work by connecting hospitals to health insurers for automatic claims submission and settlement, researchers and governments for data extraction and payments, financiers for assessing their eligibility and issuing loans, and any mobile app willing to give patients visibility of their personal health records,” he said.
MediSpark enables these connections regardless of what digital records platform an organization uses, with the goal being to join up Africa’s healthcare ecosystem.
“Our APIs will also be open to other EMR companies so they can introduce our products to their customers. This unifies Africa’s notoriously fragmented healthcare industry much faster, towards a resilient healthcare system for more than one billion Africans,” said Nwokoro.
Uptake so far has been “good”, with around 60 hospitals, pharmacies and labs using its platform. MediSpark’s network has over 41,000 registered patients and over 1,200 medical professionals, and it will be connecting 11 insurers by the end of the year.
MediSpark is in the process of raising a US$250,000 round of pre-seed funding, of which it has about half already committed. Though Nigeria-based, it is focused on Africa as a whole.
“We started in Nigeria, but we are expanding beyond it already. Our current fundraise will support further expansion,” said Nwokoro.
The startup monetises in three ways, namely SaaS subscription fees, transactional revenues, and data-as-a-product. Nwokoro said it is growing fast.
“We’ve had a 400 per cent jump in revenue between 2020 and 2021. And growing revenues over 15 per cent month-on-month. With the lean approach we took to building the business, we’ve been profitable from the start,” he said.
It has, nonetheless, been a challenge entering the market and scaling, as it is a steep learning curve for medical professionals in Africa to adopt digital ways of working.
“However, once they start to use the product, the benefits are clear and we begin to see further adoption of more products in our suite,” Nwokoro said.
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