Nigeria’s health care system ranks just 187 out of the 191 countries surveyed, and to many familiar with it, it is no surprise that there is an issue with health care access in Nigeria. The West African country, which boasts the largest population on the continent and is the largest black nation on Earth, has struggled to maintain a budget that is effective enough to make health care available and accessible to most. As a result, preventable illnesses potentially endanger the lives of many Nigerians, and those in rural areas often go without care altogether.
According to the Global Health Workforce Alliance, Nigeria does have many nurses, midwives, and doctors, but the number of medical professionals is still too low to effectively provide health services. There has been a "brain drain" out of the country as health care professions have been attracted away from the country to foreign lands for better-paid work. As a result, the majority of health care workers are concentrated in urban environments and mostly in the oil-rich and economically better off south. While there is a deficit in health care, especially preventative health care and medicine, Nigeria is obviously also home to very intelligent and talented health care professionals and entrepreneurs, many of whom are looking to change these statistics around. Oluseyi Oni, the founder of Nigerian startup Mobile Medics, is one of those individuals.
What does Mobile Medics do? Mobile Medics provides an online interface through which health care professionals and potential patients can have unimpeded access to each other to ensure that health care needs are met adequately. On their website patients can find a doctor by searching by the community they live in, searching by a specialization or searching for a specific name. Patients also have access to mobile emergency assistance on their phones should they have an emergency and require immediate assistance. The system is designed to be as convenient as possible for the patient with guidance through all steps of the care process including appointment scheduling and allowing them to avoid long queues and waiting times. Mobile Medic’s mobile app features a sleek and simple design that is easy to navigate, regardless of age or familiarity with technology.
Their goal was to make health care available to everyone, regardless of location or background. Shopping for doctors online means that patients are no longer limited to word of mouth and that searching can be made easier than going through huge lists of medical professionals who may not all treat their condition. Since most Nigerians own at least one smart phone, making the app available for iOS and Android means that the maximum amount of people will have access to health care and health advice.
The app, which is free to use allows patients to find doctors and/or request doctors to visit their home. Doctors can also use their platform to find patients. Mobile Medics advertises that doctors and other medical professionals can potentially reach millions of patients. They can use the interface to build their patient database and online presence, set their own working hours, assist individuals in emergencies and have access to premium services. Whether their customers are medical professionals or patients, all users benefit from data protection, 24/7 customer service from the Mobile Medics team, a flexible payment system and affordable payments. All doctors are verified to ensure great quality as well.
To sign up, patients simply enter their email address, full name, phone number and a password. Medical professionals will enter the same information plus their discipline, specialty, and state of residence. They can stipulate which regions they are willing to travel to as well. The ease of receiving medical advice and locating doctors in their area or who can treat their illnesses encourages patients not to ignore their symptoms and makes it less time-consuming to search through possible medical care professionals.
Mobile Medics is just another shining example of how non-traditional health care intervention can revive an industry which has been overlooked by official government channels. The next challenges to Mobile Medics and startups founded under similar environments are obtaining funding and convincing everyday people to become customers by coaxing them away from traditional venues to receive the same services.