Nigerian at-home lab testing platform gets $1.5 million in seed funding

2022-06-21 20:37:07
Nigerian at-home lab testing platform gets $1.5 million in seed funding

Healthtracka, a Lagos-based healthtech is seeking to drum home the proverb “prevention is better than cure” with its at-home lab testing platform, according to TechCrunch.

The company has raised $1.5 million in seed funding. Ifeoluwa Dare-Johnson launched the company with Victor Amusan in May 2021.

Diagnostics is at the center of healthcare; without it, doctors and physicians cannot offer treatment. But in emerging markets like Africa, where infrastructure is lacking and the doctor-to-patient ratio stands at a staggering 1:5,000, regular checkups are often considered an afterthought.

Dare-Johnson worked several years in the healthcare space before starting Healthtracka. At some point, she led marketing efforts at a diagnostic center. Yet, it wasn’t a love for her work that pushed the chief executive to tackle this problem; instead, it was a firsthand experience of the issues late, or no diagnostics can cause.

“As a scientist, I studied biochemistry in school and worked in the lab, so I knew how important diagnostics was. But it wasn’t until about four years ago, when my dad had passed, that I started to look closely into the space,” the founder and CEO told TechCrunch in an interview. “We live in Africa, where healthcare infrastructure is poor. So you would think that that would make people more conscious about their health, knowing nobody will save them. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.”

Though seemingly fit and healthy on the surface, Dare-Johnson said her dad had undetected health issues relating to diabetes and hypertension for a long time. While millions of Africans are guilty of personal health miscalculations, other factors contribute to irregular checkups such as waiting times and slow doctor consultations when present in a hospital.

Telemedicine usage in Africa has skyrocketed since the pandemic as it addresses some of these challenges discouraging patients from making routine checkups. However, there are gaps in what telemedicine can cover. For instance, after most doctor consultations, patients are required to visit hospitals for lab tests, which makes up to 70% of all clinical decision-making. Then there’s the issue of convenience when patients feel reluctant to visit a laboratory or hospital.

“These were some of the problems that I saw clearly and wondered how we could get healthcare to that level where you can be at home and access it seamlessly,” she said. “We thought that could be a game changer to how healthcare delivery can be improved in Africa. Somebody needed to come into that space to think about how to solve these operational challenges, build the logistics, technology, and the infrastructure to support the idea of at-home lab testing.”

Healthtracka’s offering is a website where individuals can book their lab tests online, have their samples collected at home, and get their results via email within 48 hours. The tests range from fertility and STD tests to full body count and COVID tests.

The one-year-old healthtech focuses on preventive care and partners with lab centers—which send their phlebotomists to customers’ homes—to diagnose. Dare-Johnson said the team’s experience in the diagnostic field helps it create quality checklists to vet these lab centers, one of which is meeting the standard ISO laboratory accreditation.

Healthtracka also works with doctors to review results and specialists for further consultation. But while a typical test covers phlebotomists’ trips and doctors’ reviewing results, customers pay extra when Healthtracka connects them with specialists if the diagnosis is worrying.

“If you do your full body checkup with us, and there are indicators that show you need to pay attention to some of your markers, which our internal doctors cater to,” said the CEO. “But if they feel you need to seek a specialist opinion on the result’s marker, then we refer you to a specialist.”

Healthtracka’s network of phlebotomists has increased 20x since its launch to over 100. And according to Dare-Johnson, the company has delivered close to 7,000 tests at home. Its revenue is growing 30% month-on-month as a result.

The company is taking three approaches to pursue more growth and diversify its revenue streams. First, it is launching subscription plans for its retail customers. The second is betting on its B2B play: offering APIs for telehealth service providers, hospitals, and pharmacies to provide at-home blood testing for their patients. Third, the healthtech company is looking to extend its presence beyond seven Nigerian cities to Kenya and Ghana before the end of the year.

“Our progress has moved from being B2C to an infrastructure play, somehow. We want to power digital diagnostics and empower healthcare providers to reach their customers where they are comfortable,” the chief executive said. “This will help reach more people, save more lives, and ensure that healthcare is better in Africa.”

Source: TechCrunch


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