Lagos– and Texas-based digital healthcare startup Reliance Health has emerged as the latest beneficiary in this sphere of digital healthcare provider, however, the company yesterday announced it has successfully scored $40 million in a Series B round known to be the largest of its kind in African healthtech.
It’s evident that the global healthtech is seeing massive growth over the past three years, thanks to the pandemic, which has helped accelerate the use of telemedicine, virtual care, and drug delivery, which has fuelled investors’ interest in this space. Thus, the aforementioned beneficiary as investment trickle down to Africa.
Reliance’s latest round which was led by General Atlantic also witnessed the participation of Picus Capital, Partech, Tencent Exploration, P1 Ventures, Africa Healthcare Master Fund, Laerdal Million Lives Fund, and M3 Inc.
Founded in 2016 by ‘Femi Kuti’, ‘Opeyemi Olumekun’ and ‘Matthew Mayaki’, Reliance is a company that uses an integrated process to provide health insurance and telemedicine by partnering with hospitals and healthcare facilities.
Meanwhile, healthcare in Africa is expected to reach a market value of over US$11 billion by 2025, per reports, and the subject startup is poised to play a pivotal role in the continent attaining that capitalization.
In view of this, the company’s chief executive Kuti conveyed to a source familiar with the matter “Our mission is super simple. I mean, the definition is simple, but the execution is sometimes more difficult than that”. Adding that, “So essentially what we’re trying to do is to use technology to make quality health care accessible and affordable in emerging markets”.
Consequently, it’s evident there is an issue with the country’s healthcare notably, accessibility and affordability. It’s also worth noting that it’s not unusual for people in Nigeria and emerging markets to take healthcare for granted, the reason is that metrics aren’t in place to guarantee the optimality of healthcare when used, so they accept whatever healthcare is available. While for the pricing, hospitals are yet to implement the appropriate way to charge patients not necessarily at the cheapest fee possible, although, the general public can afford a price point.
To ensure it delivers in its mission, startup Reliance Health decided to merge both vital concepts to ensure users are able to access an integrated suite of healthcare products via subscriptions. And some of these services are offered directly by the company – through its telemedicine platform, drug delivery system in addition to two clinics located in Lagos, Nigeria. While others are provided via third-party provider partners. Notably, hospitals, diagnostics centers, and pharmaceutical centers.
It should be borne in mind that Reliance didn’t just evolve, rather, Kangpe, launched in 2015 is a telemedicine-focused startup in Nigeria that goes with the slogan “doctor in your pocket”. The latter was eventually pivoted to Reliance.
“Back then, for example, if a patient chats with this doctor and he recommends an x-ray checkup or after that, a surgery, what happens next?” Kuti queried. “We weren’t able to manage all those [end-to-end] processes and that necessitated sort of a soft pivot from the whole telemedicine focus thing to this integrated healthcare provider that we’re doing today”.
Currently, the company operates business-to-business and business-to-customers models, as such, a health insurance plan known as RelianceHMO is designed for sets of customers where individuals can select monthly, quarterly, or annual health plans ranging from N3,500 (~$7.00) to N148,500 (~$297.00). Alternatively, these plans could be gotten at a cheaper rate when businesses subscribe on behalf of their employees.
While, in the meantime, the company claims it has over 200,000 individuals from both models. Despite challenges, the subject platform serves 600 business customers, including Jumia, Biersdorf Nivea, and PwC as it seeks to maintain an attributable intention rate of 99%. To this end, Kuti stressed the app’s functionality.
“Essentially, what we try to do is to get guide people to the best option in terms of the care that we can receive”, he said. “And regardless of that option is provided by a third-party partner or us, we are more concerned with how we work with the customer to guide them to the best option when it comes to accessing the healthcare data”.
Moreover, in addition to the growing list of first-time investors, the managing director of General Atlantic and head of EMEA Technology ‘Chris Caulkin’ stated: “General Atlantic is thrilled to announce our first technology investment in Africa in Reliance Health, backing a team focused on improving healthcare quality for millions of patients in Nigeria and abroad”.
“We have been consistently impressed by Femi and Ope, who exemplify the entrepreneurialism and innovation we see across the African continent”.
Regarding the fresh fund, the company said it plans to use a part to build two more clinic facilities in two Nigerian cities, Port Harcourt and Abuja to be precise. It equally intends to hire talent and scale new product lines as it seeks to target Nigerians in the diaspora.
Furthermore, the health-tech company will expand into new markets. Reliance Health plans to enter three countries before the end of this year, with Egypt at the top of that list, it’s already hiring a country manager to launch by mid this year.
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