09 Oct MedRx App’s Big Bang Moment: How a startup technology can have a life-saving impact
It’s not always strictly business here at the Accelerator – we also enjoy getting to know the companies we work with on a personal level. When the startup MedRx App joined our Accelerator last fall, we were impressed by their dedicated attitude towards building a product that can truly save lives.
Based in Accra, Ghana, MedRx App has developed a digital platform that connects patients in need of prescriptions to the pharmacies that stock them. Acting to combat problems in medication accessibility, the MedRx App allows patients to list their requirements, before sending requests to the 20 pharmacies located in closest proximity to the patient. Pharmacists stocking the required medication can confirm this, and the App then provides the patient with the pharmacy’s details and GPS location. The patient has the option to either order a delivery of the medication, or travel to collect it directly. Additionally, the MedRX App facilitates a forum where patients can contact pharmacists and medical health personnel, to ask them any questions directly.
The motivation behind the development of the MedRx App stems from the personal experiences of Hayford Brako, MedRx App’s CEO and Founder, within the healthcare industry in Ghana. Upon becoming a registered pharmacist in January 2015, Brako witnessed two major traumas that could possibly have been prevented, had the MedRx App existed at the time.
The MVP was built on Whatsapp
The first of these involved a patient who had been bitten by a snake: he searched for 12 hours for the necessary anti-snake serum he had been prescribed, before ultimately losing his life. According to Brako, “that awful incident compelled me to build a connection to my pharmacist colleagues in order to prevent such occurrences in future. Back then I used Whatsapp to connect 100 of my colleagues, and named the group medications and prescriptions (Med Rx).”
Later on in May that same year, Brako encountered a woman in search of Claforan – an antibiotic. She had already travelled to several pharmacies and eventually came to Brako to find that he too had run out of stock. Again, the situation was life and death: the drug was needed for the woman’s sister who lay in hospital with the babies she had just given birth to. While she had been pregnant with quadruplets, one of the babies had died in the womb and her remaining three babies were subsequently born with an infection, in urgent need of antibiotic treatment.
“I decided to help her end her misery by using my connections to find it on Whatsapp, but I realized that none of my colleagues had it either. I advised her to contact the doctor to prescribe an alternative as soon as possible, as there was a general stock-out of the prescription she had. She returned even more frustrated and in tears, holding another prescription for Meronem – this was widely out of stock, too.”
Time is of the essence
By the time Brako had managed to find a colleague stocking the vital Meronem, and helped the woman gather funds to buy the expensive medication, the situation was dire: “we got to the hospital and the four babies were down to just one. We managed to save the mother and one baby, and this was the beginning of MedRx App. After this incident, I put together a team of experts and we started building a solution to the devastating lack of access to essential medicines.”
Brako’s personal experiences are sadly not anomalies. According to figures from the World Health Organization, the total number of people without access to essential medicines currently stands between 1.3 and 2.1 billion people across the world. Africa Renewal, the information program produced by the Africa Section of the United Nations Department of Public Information, estimates that 1.6 million Africans died of malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV-related illnesses in 2015. With timely access to necessary, affordable medicines, the vast majority of these deaths could have been treated or prevented.
850 pharmacies are using the app today
It is clear that the MedRx App is vital to improving healthcare in Ghana and beyond. Thankfully since joining the Accelerator, MedRx App has been able to continuously expand the reach of their platform, and there are now 850 pharmacies using their app. This rapid growth has corresponded to MedRx App’s revenue, thus enabling them to consider the possibility of scaling to Nigeria and Kenya.
Discussing MedRx App’s journey, Brako commented, “we’ve learned to always embrace new things and learn along the way. Our journey as a startup has taught us how to close up gaps. The team at the Accelerator has also really helped us to position our company. They’ve shown us how to streamline everything to benefit the customer, and share our value with them.”
Here at the Accelerator, we are proud to have helped MedRx App to successfully pilot their app. Hearing about Hayford Brako’s personal experiences really puts the importance of what we can achieve together into perspective.
We are excited to support other startups as they transform both their businesses and the lives of others. Want to join us? Come and pitch your startup to the Accelerator – the next round of applications has now opened and closes on November 13th, 2017. Apply here: https://www.f6s.com/germanyspring2018