Shine Dichaine is the marketing and communication lead, Wellahealth Technologies Limited, a frontline healthcare tech startup in Nigeria. In this exclusive interview with Pharmanews, the versatile pharmacist and “techpreneur” highlights the transformational vision of Wellahealth for the Nigerian health sector. Excerpts:
Tell us about Wellahealth. What have you set out to accomplish in the Nigerian health sector?
Wellahealth is a Nigerian health tech startup that was piloted in 2015. We started out providing tech engaged solutions to help pharmacies manage their patients and track inventory. There was a trend in drugs being dispensed by our partners around Nigeria and we went on a deep dive to develop a product that would help reduce out-of-pocket expenses for individuals. Through our micro health plans, patients have access to quality healthcare service at the nearest community pharmacies, anywhere in Nigeria.
What products or solutions has Wellahealth launched to accomplish these goals?
We have a variety of products and some more that we plan on launching soon. We have the Wellahealth micro-insurance plans where users can get coverage for common illnesses such as malaria, typhoid, and others, starting from N450 monthly.
Leveraging our network of pharmacies, we partner with HMOs in Nigeria to fulfil drugs for their enrolees at the nearest pharmacies anywhere they are in Nigeria. On top of these are our telemedicine services available to all Nigerians.
The micro-insurance product, how does it work?
It’s as low as N450 per month that covers basic healthcare service. Subscribers are directed to the nearest community pharmacy where they are treated without paying a dime. Our pharmacy partners benefit from traffic directed to their outlets without any cost to them.
What type of partnership does Wellahealth have with their partner pharmacies?
A mutually beneficial one. Our partner pharmacies get traffic directed to their outlets daily. We provide free patient management software. We provide low-interest rate loans, timely training on service delivery and we help automate their pharmaceutical service and connect them with opportunities in the healthcare space.
Since you do not store, handle, or prescribe drugs, what is your relationship with regulatory bodies in the health space?
We are not a pharmacy, either physical or online; our strong point is value-creation for community pharmacies across Nigeria. Technical bodies like the ACPN recognise the great value we bring to the sector and partner with us to extend these opportunities to their members across the board. We are also working with other regulatory bodies to foster improvement in healthcare service delivery.
How do you keep the cost of drugs low and still make a profit?
Our goal is to give access to affordable healthcare services to all Nigerians and thanks to our partners who share in this belief and have helped in actualising the goal. Our tariffs are competitive with quality-assured drugs.
How has the pandemic affected your operations as a company?
The pandemic brought challenges and opportunities; so we focus on the opportunities. Due to the pandemic, people are conscious about their health and are looking at a safety net for health challenges; hence the importance of subscribing to our health plans.
There is also the Wellahealth Fulfillment Service that was piloted during the lockdown for enrolees of HMOs to access their drugs at the community pharmacies closest to them.
What advice do you have for the federal government on how to improve the provision and accessibility of healthcare in the country?
Health Insurance adoption is very low in Nigeria. The federal government should continuously educate the citizens on the importance of health insurance as well as engage companies like Wellahealth who are innovative in developing and redefining the alternative pathway for insurance adoption and claim services.