TECH DIGEST – Pharm Muhammad Abubakar Hassan is a Co-Founder and the Chief Operation Officer of MyClinic.ng, the first mobile application for medical consultation in Nigeria. In this interview with the TechDigest, he talks on the benefit of the mobile application.
Can you give an overview on your product, Myclinic?
Myclinic.ng is an online consultation platform which allows a patient anywhere and anytime to talk to doctors online or through our toll-free line. Our vision is to give all Africans access to online medical consultations regardless of their locations.
When was the project launch?
This project was launch on 31 March 2020. Before the launch, we’ve been working on it since 2018 building the application. By mid-2019, we completed the project and commenced testing the application. We took it to so many states in Nigeria for people to have a direct feel of the software. So far, we have over 1000 consultations collecting data directly from prospected clients. We also conducted a lot of market survey. We have integrated the product to suit the feedback we got from the survey.
Have you participated in any competition or Challenges since the launch?
We’ve participated in some competitions, and emerged winners. The most recent was organized by the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) in June 2020. They announce for startups companies to come up with a solution to help Nigerian curtail Covid-19 pandemic in different aspects. In themes of logistics, health, maintain small business and lots of challenges. We competed for the health aspect of the competition and our team emerged one of the winners with cash prizes.
How many people have subscribed to the service?
The numbers are growing steadily, we’ve have about 2400 subscribers who have downloaded our application before the grant, as of now, we have about 3200 as at September 2020. Interestingly, when we realize that not all Nigerians have access to the internet or use smart phones, we came up with new system. A toll free consultations lines, that allows Nigerians who do not have access to the internet to still have access to our platforms through phone calls. A patient can just pick their phone so long they have GSM signal on their mobile. They can dial our toll free lines and our customer representative will connect them with a doctor. These means that a woman selling grains in Aba market or farmer from a remote village in Kano can just pick their phone from their farm and speak to our doctors in their native language. We currently have clients calling from various parts of the country. Majority call from Lagos, Abuja and Kano.
What is the unique selling point of the Mobile Application?
We’re cross platform products: We have Android, IOS and a web app. What we realize is that, majority of the people that have consultations right now about 80% of them used the Toll free lines despite having smartphones. They prefer to use the toll free line and talk to doctors directly and then note their consultations details.
Is the tollfree cheaper than the mobile application?o
It is not cheaper. It is actually a bite higher than using the application.
Can you make profit with that?
Yes, we make profit and still profitable. Our market strategy is quit unique, even we’re trying to reach out to Nigerians directly by using social media and other general marketing platforms. We’re partner with largest providers of primary health care i.e the community pharmacies. We’ve arrange with them to serve as boarding centers and prescription pick up point. A patient can simply walk in to any of our partner pharmacies and requested to our advisement material and assist them to onboard our system so as to talk to doctor directly, however refer then back to the pharmacy.
You should realise that mostly, when patients are feeling unwell, they practice self- medication. One of the major problems we’re solving with the application is to reduce self-medication. Secondly, we’re targeting corporate organizations for partnership. We just concluded a deal with Nigerian Non- Interest banks to service their members. From this we can be able to reach out to more people to subscribe to our platform.
Are members of your team in the health sector profession?
Myclinic.ng team is comprising of individuals from various disciplines with complementary skills. We have pharmacies, doctors, software engineers and experience financial gurus among others. We build this product with the Nigerians at heart, You should know that sometimes patients spend more that six hours, just to see a doctor in public health facility in Nigeria as well as cost about #10,000 to visit a private hospital. High-heart of pocket cost and long waiting hours constitute significant barriers to health services in Nigeria. Access is what we’re providing and solving self-medication. The message is that, since this platform is on board, with just #1000 or #1500 with your family, you can call a doctor from anywhere at any time, so you have no reason to self-medicate. It is never a bad idea to talk to a doctor from the comfort of your location.
How do build relationship between the doctor and the patients despite the fact you were not presence at the consulting time?
We have a tele-medicines guideline that we work with. Though Nigeria doesn’t have one at the moment but we use other countries, like Canada, south Africa in this regard. There is a specific training doctors go through. There are lots of things you can’t do to a patient because is not sitting in front of you. But we try as much as possible to still give them the best. These are the guidelines our doctors follow when consulting a patient.
Do you make referrals to physical medical facilities?
We do. The doctor will first establish if the case can be managed online before considering the referral option. We have network of hospital we partner with for referrals too. We don’t pay for the patient’s hospital bill, but to offer opportunity for a patient to talk to doctor to avert self-medication. Talk to doctor first if possible to refer to hospital for physical checkup for what we can’t do online. The cost of consultation is what the patient paid for and that is what we offer to keep the company going and allow the company to grow.
Do your partners, hospitals and labs create discount for those who are been referral by the doctors?
We have an arrangement with some of them, as a general case. They normally charge their normal fee. From the volume of patients referred from our doctors to their facility. In return, they give percentage discounts to our referred patients. We have a deal with one of the largest laboratory in Nigeria, the agreement now is that, our patients will be given a 30% discount.
You charge N1000 for individuals, N1500 for family, what about corporate organizations?
For companies, there is no fix price. Though we have a minimum because number of staff varies from each company, at scale not all the staff will be using the platform.
What can you say about potential of this mobile application?
I must commend NITDA for being part of our journey after our participation in the competition it organised. The agency It has been very supportive. They monitor our progress till success.
We are also involved in different programme, like Voldca programmes, and presently, we are running an accelerator programmes under the supervision of NITDA. We’ve had a great deal of mentorship from NITDA. They monitor the project, the execution aspect and marketing and connect us to other opportunities so that we succeed.