UNCDF supports improving access to health care in Benin with goMediCAL
In 2017 a Beninese start-up, Open SI, launched goMediCAL, an application that aims to improve access to health care. The app allows users to access a list of doctors and clinics, make appointments with health professionals for themselves or others. It also enables users to share their medical records with doctors and pay for consultations. goMediCAL is the first second generation product launched in Benin. Open SI faced several challenges such as the low rate of smartphone penetration and the need for more health workers to adopt digital technologies. UNCDF helped the start-up to address those challenges.
According to World Bank gures, 40 percent of Beninese people live below the national poverty line. This lack of financial resources may mean that they are unable to travel quickly to a hospital or to buy quality medicines. The country’s population stands at almost 12 million, of which 40 percent have a mobile-money account. In 2017 a Beninese start-up, Open SI, launched goMediCAL, an application that aims to improve access to health care. In just one year, 33 clinics registered on the app and 1,800 customers started using it.
In supporting this first mHealth project in West Africa, UNCDF had two main goals: to have a social impact by integrating more people into the health care system, and to increase digital financial transactions and financial inclusion. UNCDF recruited a health adviser to assist the start-up.
Open SI built a strong penetration strategy focused mainly on advocacy and awareness-raising among health workers. Using a technical service provider, UNCDF assisted Open SI to set up a sales force of eight recruits to strengthen the relationship with these doctors, clinics and hospitals.
As a result, the number of patients using the service has increased by 60 percent in terms of customers, usage (i.e. number of appointments) has increased by 150 percent and about 40 percent more doctors have adopted the service.
Before, I had to travel for between 60 and 75 minutes, and wasn’t sure if I would be able to consult a doctor, as they are really busy. Now with goMediCAL, I can look for experts and book online to be certain that I have a confirmed appointment with the doctor. I save time and money, as I don’t have to pay for travel any more. Also as my family lives far away, I can also book for them remotely and all they have to do is just go at the time of appointment.
- A PATIENT
Main lessons learnt:
- Secretaries in hospitals and clinics are the key people in prescribing the goMediCAL solution and they should be encouraged to do so.
- Partnership with organizations with a large subscriber base (telecom companies, banks, insurance companies, etc) will allow goMediCAL’s end-user base to grow faster.
- Although young people are most likely to download and use the goMediCAL app, the main targets of the solutions are families, single mothers and populations which rely heavily on diaspora support.
Looking forward, UNCDF has helped goMediCAL adapt its strategy and lessons learned from the pilot have inspired the start-up. In the coming days, Open SI will get closer to the public authorities, in order to strengthen the legitimacy of goMediCAL among the various actors in the health sector. The start-up will also include more communication campaigns in its strategy to reach the population outside Benin, especially the diaspora.
For a more in depth look into goMediCAL and UNCDF's challenges, solutions, and the projects full timeline and numbers, download full factsheet here.