The Changes Ponea is bringing to the African game

Everything was already in existence, all he did was interconnect them...


To talk about Kenyan startup, Ponea, there is no snubbing its founder, Mike Macharia.

For the past 20 years, East African businesses have benefited from the assistance of Kenyan IT entrepreneur Mike Macharia in creating infrastructures that support their expansion.

Since its launch in June 2019, Ponea has added more than 15,000 consumers and more than 400 health and wellness providers, converting at a rate of 54%, as more individuals seek out tele-health as a result of the sector’s expansion due to Covid. The increase coincides with claims that tele-health will close the healthcare access gap in Africa, the continent with the highest burden of disease and the lowest patient-to-doctor ratio in the world.

Ponea aims to increase its customer base by 500,000 in the next three years as tele-health use increases and create a presence in four additional markets, including South Africa, Nigeria, Egypt, and Morocco.

His company, Seven Seas Technologies, started out with previously working with governments after taking part in the initial rollout of hubs intended to deliver decentralized service that grant citizens access to practically all government services through a single portal.

This was before Macharia was given the go-ahead by the Kenyan government to construct the now-abandoned national hospital information system, which, in his opinion, would have revolutionized the nation’s system for delivering healthcare. Even though the project was a failure, it served as the impetus for Ponea Health to emerge as a market for healthcare services.


The Changes Ponea is bringing to the African game

The startup tech mogul revealed he had spent most of his life developing hardware and software for businesses before he had a self-reflective moment at the conclusion of the project till he conceived the idea of developing a technology for the masses.

The idea’s applicability came about due to the intervention of what was to him a personal crisis.

“I had a nosebleed as I was leaving my house, and that was the second time it had happened. When I spoke with my doctor, he suggested that I get some testing. But given that it was a hectic day already, I believe he knew I wouldn’t take them. He then dispatched a lab worker to collect samples at my office. I coordinated with a pharmacy that utilized a rider to deliver the medications after the results and doctor’s evaluation,” Macharia tried to explain.

Everything became apparent to him at that point, but he was baffled as to why they were unconnected. When Macharia learned that no one had tried to integrate the entire ecosystem into one, he saw that this was a necessary step.

And so he began to develop Ponea as a “truly patient-centric platform.”

Ponea Health is intended to be a multi-tiered marketplace that brings together customers, healthcare providers, and other service providers, such as those in the payment industry.

Users may quickly find doctors, facilities, and/or healthcare packages based on needs, location, and costs because price is taken into account while listing.

The type of consultation that follows a user connecting with a doctor depends on the seriousness of the user’s conditions. Furthermore, Ponea connects patients with lab providers for sample collection in cases where a doctor has recommended tests.

Since they came  to the realization that they needed to start managing the last-mile experience for patients, they began employing phlebotomists, who occasionally took blood samples.

A call center supports the entire process and guarantees that patients have a smooth experience from the time they check in until their medications are delivered.

Prior to being approved for inclusion on Ponea’s platform, clinicians are screened and graded using the company’s own grading system, which draws information from public records and medical licenses. In addition, patients can rate healthcare professionals using predetermined parameters, which aids in classifying doctors based on their satisfaction and experience.

“We set out to create a platform that should function anywhere in the world, therefore we designed a scalable product that interfaces easily with others.” Macharia said.

He went on to reveal that doing this, they no longer saw the need to construct what was already in existence. By enabling worldwide API integration, they can take a strategic engagement approaches.

“And, we have identified excellent firms both worldwide and locally that we work with in amazing ways,” he added, adding that the platform is also able to collect data from devices  such company as a global mental health symptom checker he reveals they are currently working on.

The Changes Ponea is bringing to the African game

In order to better coordinate information and data for disease supervision, Ponea’s solution includes a chronic disease management component for patients and their caregivers, such as nurses.

The startup also serves SMEs, companies without full insurance, and people who only need outpatient care. The Ponea wallet balance does not expire, unlike insurance, and employees can choose services from a list of pre-approved providers.

Afya Partners, Shield Capital, Seven Seas Technologies, and a variety of angel investors, including Bhavesh Shah, Herman Langen, Franciscus Olsthoorn, and Kalpesh Mehta, have all contributed $4.3 million to Ponea to date.

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