A 28 year-old pharmacist from rural Mpumalanga, Johannes Mangane, has made it to the finals of the Sandoz Healthcare Access Challenge (Sandoz HACk) for his mHealth solution, PillDrop.

Sandoz HACk is a global competition that aims to generate innovative ideas and solutions to help tackle some of the world’s most pressing healthcare access problems.

Mangane was chosen as one of six finalists from 150 global entries.

“Two billion people worldwide currently cannot access the medicines they need. In South Africa, a lack of infrastructure, especially in remote rural areas, is a huge challenge we are well aware of. While there are large-scale initiatives by industry stakeholders that try to tackle these challenges, they need to be supported by community-led change, driven by innovative small-scale solutions that can make a big difference. This is why Sandoz HACk was born,” said Commercial Excellence Head at Sandoz in South Africa, Carel Meintjes.

“PillDrop was developed by Johannes in response to his experience of serving one of the most vulnerable communities in our country. It uses mobile technology, a strong theme of the 2016/17 Sandoz HACk challenge, to address key weaknesses in local healthcare access. If he wins this challenge, his proposed solution can, without doubt, be applied locally and eventually globally to immense benefit,” continued Meintjes.

Mangane’s solution, PillDrop, has been described as an ‘Uber’ opportunity to revolutionise access to chronic medication in South Africa and globally.

“In South Africa, being on chronic medication can mean long lines, expensive trips to distant medical centers and clinics, and sometimes unfilled prescriptions due to medicine shortages. The cost to patients is high – it can mean a day or more of lost work time, high travel costs, and exposure to secondary infections. The solution I submitted – PillDrop – is a response to this challenge that I see daily,” said Mangane.

PillDrop was inspired by the sustainability and scalability of Uber systems but informed by Mangane’s understanding of the abundance of local resources – smartphones, network coverage and a variety of transport systems – that could make this solution workable and sustainable in the local environment.

“PillDrop is a mobile app that will enable patients to register as users and motorists or motorcycle drivers to register as providers. The fee charged by the driver to collect and deliver the medication will be less than the normal cost of travel by the patient to collect the medicine,” said Mangane.

“The app will also enable the patient to view availability of the medicine at the pickup point before initiating a request. In addition, the app will be used to educate patients on disease management, and act as a platform for community pharmacovigilance, enabling patients to report adverse drug reactions online,” continued Mangane.

The app also enables pharmacists to schedule medicine deliveries and adds a security layer, requiring the registration of PillDroppers and GPS tracking of parcels.

PillDrop is currently in conceptual development. Mangane’s entry, along with that of the other five finalists, have been posted on the Open IDEO website , a network of creatives, technologists, social entrepreneurs and other interested people who help others solve problems.

Sandoz South Africa is encouraging South Africans to take a look at Mangane’s idea and support him during this feedback phase by sharing their comments, questions and thoughts to help strengthen and evolve his idea.

Meanwhile, Sandoz South Africa and Sandoz Global are supporting the finalists to strengthen their ideas into proposals to pitch at Wired Health in London on 7-9 March 2017. Three winners will be chosen from the six finalists. Each will win €20,000 seed funding and mentor support from Sandoz.

“The seed funding will assist me to develop the concept into a prototype and initiate a pilot project that will hopefully attract further funding from public and private sectors,” said Mangane.

Finalists can secure feedback until mid-February 2017.

“A digital era brings us closer to the dream of integrated access to medicines and improved healthcare for all. As a global leader in generic medicines, Sandoz provides an important perspective: from discovering new ways to improve and extend lives, to pioneering new approaches that ensure medicines and health services reach the people that need them,” said Meintjes.

“It is wonderful to see the level of innovation, entrepreneurship and sheer goodwill emanating from the Sandoz HACk participants, but it takes a concerted effort to move from idea to execution. The solutions that are being brought to light, like Johannes’ PillDrop, are solutions built from the ground up to fit the needs of the community. It’s important for us all to support these efforts,” concluded Meintjes.

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