A team of innovative students have developed and successfully rolled out an eHealth platform that allows patients in Kenya to find, book and pay for healthcare consultations – all from their Android mobile device.
The platform, called Medbit, was developed in early 2017, a year after the co-founders, Jesse Kimotho (CEO) and Denis Mugambi (Managing Director), met fresh out of high school. Their initial idea was to create a company called Bobea (loosely translates to ‘Being in the Know’), to provide sexual health reproduction information to Kenya’s youth. Their vision then developed into a larger eHealth service, which became Medbit.
“Our CEO, Jesse Kimotho, comes from a family of medical professionals. His father currently works at the Kenya Medical and Research Institute while the mother has also been a Marketer in the healthcare industry for most of her life. Our other team member, Joy Allana, is a medical doctor who studied at the University of Nairobi, which arguably has the best medical school in East Africa. All these professionals have been instrumental in providing us with a roadmap on how to cut our niche within the health sector,” Medbit’s Spokesperson, Richard Okenye, told eHealthNews.
Through the Medbit app, patients can search through a database of over 500 doctors and filter them down according to speciality, date and time that they wish to book an appointment. After looking at reviews and other information about the doctor, the patient can book an appointment via the app and then pay for the consultation by using one of a number of supported payment options, including M-pesa (sim-to-sim money transfer), PayPal or debit/credit card.
Medbit has also developed a complimentary app for doctors, called Medbit Pro, which allows doctors to sign-up to the platform. For every transaction facilitated by Medbit, 5% of the doctor’s commission goes to Medbit, as well as 5% from the patient.
“Our application is a plus for any doctor who would be willing to sign up for a number of reasons; our service increases their productivity because they are able to serve as many people as they can because their schedule is in the hands of any patient who might need it,” said Okenye.
“Medbit also streamlines their booking management because all of the clinics and hospitals they serve at provide different schedules and payment options for patients; we bring all these together into one platform. Medbit also boosts the accessibility of the doctors because patients can find them easily on our platform,” continued Okenye.
Before doctors are accepted onto the platform they are required to provide evidence of their Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Board (KMPDB) Registration, the latest Retention Certificate, their Medical degree, Private practice license, National ID and malpractice insurance.
“The future, which is technically starting now, is technological. Medbit will ensure that service provision methodology of the doctors stays relevant and leaves a digital footprint,” said Okenye.
“Our current market-plan is to enrol 300 doctors per month so that by this time next year we will have 70% of the doctors in Kenya on board. We also hope to comfortably serve all the major urban areas in Kenya and integrate fully as the main eHealth provider for the public,” continued Okenye.
For a startup that is only one year old, Medbit is already planning on expanding their platform into Tanzania and Uganda towards the end of 2018. They are currently doing a market validation in the two countries and, so far, the only set-back they have experienced is the limited mobile money transfer options available.
“We also hope to integrate our platform into other services such as insurance payment options, especially by bringing on board the largest health insurance provider in Kenya, National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF). Medbit is also planning on introducing doctor-to-doctor communication that will enable the sharing and transfer of patient records for better diagnosis,” concluded Okenye.
The team started developing the Medbit app after an initial investment of $5,000. They have since received an angel investment of $20,000 which has helped in fully shaping the Medbit App for patients, as well as its complimentary app for doctors, Medbit Pro. They are also receiving professional startup mentorship from Tsai Centre at Yale University and locally from the Innovation Hub at Kenyatta University.