A world where a mother has to choose between medication for her health or education for her child is an unjust world.
That quote, which appears on Gregory Rockson’s LinkedIn page, gives an insight into the mandate and mission his co-creation, mPharma, has saddled itself with to realise.
Gregory Rockson is the co-founder and CEO of mPharma, a health tech startup with operations in a total of nine African countries to date, namely: Ghana, Nigeria, Zambia, Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Gabon, Rwanda, and Malawi.
How mPharma came to be
Gregory Rockson and his co-founders, Daniel Shoukimas and James Finucane, founded mPharma in 2013 to serve as an e-prescription platform for medical and pharmaceutical supplies in his home country of Ghana.
The founders are pushing forward with the mission to build an Africa in good health, and this they are doing by developing tools powered by technology with which medical practitioners and customers can solve the challenge of the provision of good healthcare.
Funding and expansion
mPharma has gone on to receive funding in the millions, with backing from Chamath Palihapitiya of Social Capital and Silicon Valley investor Jim Breyer.
To show how successful it has turned out to be, within just a year of operation, the startup signed up two leading pharmaceutical giants, Novartis and Pfizer.
It also says it now serves over 100,000 patients monthly and has distributed more than a million drugs to individuals across Africa from a total of 300 partner pharmacies pooled from across the continent.
In explaining how mPharma essentially operates, Gregory Rockson, in an interview, used the analogy of mobile telecommunication networks. He said, “When mobile communication networks were set up across Africa, telecom companies had to invest in towers before selling sim cards to consumers.
Continuing, he explains that the mpharma application suite is the sim card that they give to doctors and hospitals while they build the towers that allow these doctors to use the application wherever they find themselves.
“Our application suite is the sim card that we give to doctors and hospitals, and we are building the towers that allow them to use the application,” he says.
This shows that mPharma is providing not just data to drug companies and health ministries, but also updates to its cloud-based software. With the application, medical practitioners can get updates in real time on exact locations and the availability of any drug they need. On the flip side, patients are also connected with information on where they can get access to drugs and medications.
Gregory Rockson holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from Westminster College. He was a Public Policy and International Affairs Fellow at Princeton University and was a Rotary Scholar at the University of Copenhagon.
Speaking on what he sees as opportunities across the African continent that are often overlooked, Gregory points to the area of building tech solutions that target the elderly. This, he says, is due to the fact that the issues on the African continent are often x rayed through the lens of its youth.
“The enormous potential in building direct-to-consumer tech solutions targeting the elderly (60+) in Africa because the continent is always seen through the lens of its youth. Most of the technology solutions being built today focus on addressing problems faced by younger consumers,” he says.
mPharma launches Facility Insight
The healthcare technology company earlier this month (July 2022) launched Facility Insight, a customer-centric product on Bloom, its proprietary management and pharmacy tool. Facility Insight is aimed at providing pharmacy owners with bespoke data-driven insights in a bid to help them make more informed management decisions.
Speaking on the tool, mPharma’s chief product officer, Dan Shoukimas who led the engineering of the feature, said, “Pharmacies today suffer from two problems at opposite ends of a spectrum. Either they lack the data and analytics tools they need, are hungry to get it, but don’t have the tools or training necessary to get it, or they have a glut of data but cannot leverage it to make better decisions.
“Facility insights is a key step forward in solving these and many other gaps in the pharmacist’s data toolbelt. With key reporting in place, there will be plenty of opportunities for us to uncover actionable insights that help our pharmacists provide the best care possible.”
Since no venture is immune from challenges, mPharam has had its own fair share of these.
When asked what challenge they have faced in running mPharma, Gregory says it’s the issue of payment. Hear him:
“People don’t want to pay for health care. For a long time, health care has only been looked at as social intervention and not a commercial opportunity. This has largely been driven by the foreign aid agenda that has distorted health care markets in Africa.”
Regardless of the challenges, however, Gregory and the team are pushing forward with the goal of delivering and ensuring a healthier Africa.
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