Home Startup Healthtech Exlusive: How Helium Health is Digitising Nigeria’s Health Sector
Healthtech - Interviews - August 24, 2020

Exlusive: How Helium Health is Digitising Nigeria’s Health Sector

Helium Health is driving the digitisation of Nigeria’s health sector by helping hospitals transition from the paper-based records system to a smart digital system. With its software, the startup has helped many healthcare organisations to manage patient records.

Helium Health was founded by three Nigerian entrepreneurs (pictured above), Adegoke Olubusi (left), Tito Ovia (centre) and Dimeji Sofowora.

The company has grown into offering its customers a wider range of services since it was created. The platform now lets hospitals monitor metrics, maintain a digital payment system, and apply for loans for their facilities.

Business Elites Africa sat with the co-founder and CEO of Helium health, Adegoke Olubusi.

Enjoy the read!

Q: What is the core competence of Helium health?

A: Helium Health provides a suite of interconnected technology solutions that serve as the digital infrastructure for healthcare in Africa. With our Hospital Management Suite, which includes our award-winning Electronic Medical Records platform, we empower providers to administer care efficiently and in record time, and we enable health managers to get a better handle on the performance and finances of their practice. Integrations with this solution enable health insurance companies to process claims quicker, and public health authorities receive real-time reports about suspected cases of high-priority infectious diseases.

Our health financing product, HeliumCredit, leverages healthcare data collected by our EMR to decide collateral-free loans for both patients and healthcare providers. Our patient supper app, myHelium, enables patients view their hospital visit summaries, lab results and prescriptions. They can even book appointments and order medication on the app. To help health facilities keep providing care amidst the lockdowns and travel restrictions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, we launched a Telemedicine platform. With our telemedicine solution, hospitals can have hassle-free consultations with their patients, remain competitive in this digital age, and protect their staff and patients from community spread of the virus.

The impact of our Telemedicine platform on hospitals includes the increased capacity to see more patients within the same timeframe, and of course, more revenue. To support the government’s efforts to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, we developed an Emergency Response System (ERS) that digitizes the end-to-end public health response to disease outbreaks. This customizable solution improves disease surveillance by eliminating silos within response teams. It introduces transparency around team performance and makes it easy to assess the response’s impact on eliminating the virus. Ultimately, it makes data-driven resource allocation possible.

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Q: What path led to where Helium Health is right now?

A: Paper-based records dominate African healthcare and they are linked to a myriad of issues most notably is a lack of access to reliable and accurate data which leads to inefficient healthcare delivery, lack of healthcare financing, poor disease surveillance and poor health outcomes. This is why we created Helium Health.

Q: What would you say is the greatest strength of Helium Health?

A: Beyond our superior approach to product development and the accessibility of these products, our long term strategy is one of the reasons they have been more successful than the competition in improving health outcomes. Unlike other healthtech companies that are typically focused on solving one aspect of the health system’s challenges, Helium Health has always recognized that solving the problem of digitizing health records will give them control over critical healthcare data.

This data has been the foundation on which they have built connected products like HeliumCredit and HeliumPay that solve critical challenges in the sector such as the easy collection of patient out-of-pocket payments and poor healthcare financing. Tackling the sector’s healthcare problems in such a strategic, multi-dimensional manner has enabled Helium Health to have a magnified impact on patient health outcomes. Furthermore, our thoughtful engagement of government health officials has contributed to Helium Health having a wide-scale impact on health outcomes through direct and indirect means. The implementation of their solutions at government-run facilities, which tend to be bigger and more affordable than private facilities, means Helium Health directly impacts the health outcomes of thousands of people each month.

Co-founder and CEO of Helium health, Adegoke Olubusi

Q: What inspired the creation of your loan product, CreditCare?

A: Poor healthcare financing is something that impacts healthcare administrators, health workers, and patients. Despite Africa representing 17% of the global population and having 24% of the global disease burden, the continent has a per capita health spend that is 50x less than that of developed countries, and a healthcare financing deficit of $66B per year. In Nigeria, the statistics are even more dire. Government per capita healthcare spend is $10, lower than the sub- Saharan Africa average of $23, and private health insurance penetration is less than 10%. All of these factors compound and contribute to Nigeria having some of the worst health outcomes in the world: the 2nd highest child mortality rate at 120 deaths per 1,000 births, 3rd lowest life expectancy at 54 years, and the 4th highest maternal mortality at 917 deaths per 100,000 births. Poor healthcare financing is linked to the lack of actionable healthcare data caused by archaic paper-based health records systems. Small-medium private health facilities, which provide care to over 50% of Nigerians, have long been deemed high-risk and thus excluded from the lending services offered by commercial banks. This categorization is primarily due to the lack of data about the operational, clinical, and revenue performance of these facilities. It was in the light of these challenges we decided to create HeliumCredit.

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