A Mobile Health Innovation from South Africa

While the South Africa’s medical industry is well developed, it has problems like many nations in providing adequate, affordable medical care to everyone. An innovative mobile healthcare voucher system by Prior Institute aims to fill this gap.

Bryan Sidders, CEO of Prior Institute, shares that South Africa still has a major gap in providing health care for the masses. “It’s left to the private sector to address the problem,” says Sidders.

Prior’s voucher solution has a simple business model backed by the power of mobile operators’ model of pre-paid airtime. Prior provides the voucher service over existing mobile networks, eliminating major capital expenditures. They have developed a medical provider network that accepts the vouchers and sell the vouchers to employers to provide their employees.

Patients have a simple solution to take care of primary, preventative, and nutritional care issues at controlled costs. The mobile platform allows Prior and patients to maintain two-way communication consistently.

Prior’s system also works for the medical providers who get additional customers and get paid immediately rather than waiting on reimbursement and handling the administrative burden from health insurers or government programs.

Prior has chosen to start with a “ready” market so that it can build a significant footprint while building its own capital base to provide expanded services like clinics and reach all South Africans. Sidders opens up by saying they spent several years chasing investors, which was a waste of time as a start-up, unless you count the time that a large firm wanted to buy them out. As a steward of the vision of providing good healthcare to everyone, this was ultimately not an option.

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Another tip Sidders provides is that it’s important, as a start-up, to develop a simple solution that consumers will easily understand. Having to extensively educate potential customers can add significant capital cost upfront and hinder the speed at which your product or service takes off in the market.

As a final encouragement to start-ups, Sidders says, “Just get going.”