So, how is mPharma disrupting the healthcare industry, specifically the pharmaceutical market which is estimated by IMS Health to reach $45 billion by 2025?
mPharma’s mission is simple, to make prescription drugs in emerging markets easily accessible and easily affordable. Out of the 46 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, only four have proper drug monitoring systems in place and substandard or fake drugs are very common . Furthermore, data is primarily transmitted through very archaic and inefficient methods: doctors often must make several phone calls to locate drugs and prescriptions are typically written on paper. In the very likely event that either phone lines are down, or the patient travels miles to a pharmacy only for the pharmacist to misunderstand the prescription, the patient could be left with no drugs. To address the problem, mPharma has built the infrastructure and a drug monitoring system that connects patients, hospitals and pharmacies to a cloud-based software. Doctors know in real-time the exact location and availability of any medication of interest, and patients have a more reliable access to medicines. Through partnerships with various parties across the supply-chain including pharmaceutical manufacturers, insurance companies, and local governments, mPharma can deliver medicine directly into the hands of consumers in these underserved markets. mPharma has built the backend infrastructure to connect pharmacies together and provide data to stakeholders in real time. Through its innovative e-prescription tools, doctors, patients and pharmacists gain access to a network of high quality, affordable prescription drugs, and the support to ensure that drugs are being administered appropriately .
How exactly does mPharma’s business model create value?
mPharma is currently present in four African countries: Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria and Zambia and its product offering includes mClinic and mPharmacy.
Through mClinic, doctors prescribe medication and send a prescription code to the pharmacy and patient’s mobile phone. Once a patient is registered into the system, their information and prescription history can be easily accessed by their doctor. Furthermore, doctors can see stock information for any of the partner pharmacies to avoid sending patients to pharmacies where drugs are unavailable. Lastly, doctors and pharmacist can communicate directly through mPharma’s messaging system .
mPharmacy primarily saves pharmacists time and paperwork by allowing them to communicate instantaneously with patients and doctors, receive and dispense prescriptions, and automate refills from a simple mobile platform. Pharmacies receive a patient’s diagnosis and prescribed medication through a digital prescription code sent by a doctor. Prescriptions are maintained and served automatically and due to the convenience of the messaging system, pharmacies can easily track the patients’ progress, continuity, and uniformity via a simple text, all while communicating seamlessly with the prescriber. mPharma also offers pharmacies stock control tools which make inventory management more efficient.
Next steps for mPharma
Though mPharma is disrupting the healthcare industry and addressing a major problem experienced by individuals across the continent, another key issue that limits access to healthcare is cost. In Sub-Saharan Africa, the average person survives on less than $3 a day. According to the World Bank, from 1993 to 2008 the average per capita income of sub-Saharan African economies increased from $742 to $762 per year. Excluding South Africa and the Seychelles, the per capita income declined from $608 to $556 over the same period . Historically, Healthcare in Africa has been very much donor driven, and while this helps tremendously, it is not sustainable. In order to cater to the majority of the population, mPharma must find creative ways to collect payment from its consumers including lower prices for drugs, flexible payment terms, and consumer loans.
With mobile phone penetration at 77% as of 2015, and expected to grow to 93% by 2020 (includes 540M smartphones) , the future for mPharma is extremely bright. I am confident that they will continue to solve problems in the healthcare industry across the continent for years to come. Ayekoo!!!!!
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 “Density of physicians (total number per 1000 population, latest available year)” World Health Organization, Global Health Observatory (GHO) Data
 “The Story of mPharma”, One Young World, http://voicesofafrica.co.za/the-story-of-mPharma/, August 2013
 “Standing Still but going backwards”, C.W., The Economist http://www.economist.com/blogs/freeexchange/2014/01/incomes-sub-saharan-africa January 2014
 “The Mobile Economy Sub-Saharan Africa 2015”, GSMA, https://www.gsmaintelligence.com/research/?file=721eb3d4b80a36451202d0473b3c4a63&download