Kenyan App Geo-Maps Medical Emergencies To Enable Swift Assistance

Kenyan App Geo-Maps Medical Emergencies To Enable Swift Assistance

Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

When Lucy Njuguna’s brother was involved in a car accident, it took too long for medical assistance to arrive on the scene and he died.

In response, she has developed an app in Kenya that will alert paramedics and other emergency rescue personnel about medical emergencies that require assistance.

Njuguna started off her career as a marketer in Kenya. She found her passion in health system management when she worked on a project that bridged the gap between solving food security problems and what research institutions and universities were churning out.

She quickly discovered that while research institutions had a great deal of data and solutions, the people who were meant to benefit from the research work were not actually benefiting.

Together with some friends and the close networks that they enjoyed, she built a platform that would make it easier and faster for people involved in accidents, or who had medical emergencies, to get medical attention fast.

Nurse-In-Hand (NIH) is a mobile app that geo-maps accidents and emergencies across Kenya. The app alerts a pool of registered paramedics, ambulances and air rescue services available, as well as police stations and classified hospitals in the vicinity of the incident.

While still in its beta stage, Nurse-In-Hand is gathering pace. The startup signed a deal with tech firm Apla Tech during the World Blockchain Summit held in Nairobi in March to integrate blockchain technology into the app. Njuguna says the blockchain-enabled app will help store critical patient data and enable accurate diagnosis of diseases.

Moguldom caught up with Njuguna to discuss her innovative app and how it will help the people who use it.

Moguldom: What’s your background?

Njuguna:  My earlier background is in advertising, but then I got involved in a project that was looking at the communities and disconnect between what the communities have and what research institutions, universities have. There is so much information held by one side in terms of the solutions. But the people who are meant to benefit from all these solutions don’t. Our project was on food security, so that got me out of the comfort zone. This was a European Union (EU) project within five countries for the universities, and it got me to the other side of this disconnect.

Moguldom: What made you think of safety and emergency response?

Njuguna:  A while back, I lost a brother to a road accident and have other relatives who have had serious accidents. I started asking why is it we are more reactive and what can we do? I thought, without getting into the government space in terms of handling that, what other services or support can we start giving our people. So I got together colleagues and we created a platform where one can get different professionals contributing in their own professional capacity to solutions that affect all of us.

Moguldom: How do you plan to finance this app and the network around it?

Njuguna: We got an investor who was ready to put in 100 percent. It’s a private company which also has a heavy social impact. In essence, we should be an aid agency. However, how do we sustain this because if we are looking at putting up a solution that is sustainable we cannot just depend on development partners, donations and all that, it has to be self-sustaining.

Moguldom:  Who was the investor and how much were you looking for from them?

Njuguna: It was an external investor. We are looking for 1.6 billion shillings ($15.8 million). We approached it from the business side. That is how we got an investor who looked at our business case and saw it was sound.

Moguldom: Has the investor already invested that?

Njuguna: No. That was a conversation we had (in 2017). Remember, we were doing many levels. The fact we had government clearance did well for them because they said the magnitude of the project needed government goodwill. But then we had our politics, we were to wait for the politics so the launch was to happen in October, but whatever happened happened and we had to stretch off things. So they said OK, as things settled politically, let us review this thing in January when the politics comes down.

Moguldom: What kind of things are you looking to invest in?

Njuguna: If we can have more money, we can do a lot. Remember, from Mombasa to Malaba, that’s a distance of 1,710km (1,062 miles), now if we are looking at a radius of 10km (6.2 miles), then can we imagine positioning a paramedic every 10km (6.2 miles)? So you can see we can even take 170 or 180 paramedics. It all depends on the budget. If we can have good budget then we can refine this to making sure that as soon as the accident happens, there is a person at the scene, however, we got to be realistic. We are working with 10km (6.2 miles) radius, however, we’ll not be dotted along the whole highway because there are some places along the highway that are okay but there are the black-spot areas. So it will be more focused on the black-spot areas. We are looking at 55 positions because the investor had indicated they were looking for projects that would cover between $10-20 billion. These containers would house the paramedics to be able to offer 24/7 service and drugs, and then vehicle-cutting equipment.

Moguldom: How are you going to recover your investor’s money?

Njuguna: We have a business case that will be on subscription basis. You as an individual, as you travel, you need to know that should anything happen you can get medical aid and our back-up team will already be there. Then we are also looking at putting out a value-ad to the existing operators. We are looking at the insurance industry and we are looking at what benefit are we going to offer them. We are looking at helping them reduce the percentage of fraud cases and claims they get at an affordable fee.

Moguldom: Is this solution new to the world?

Njuguna: This is a solution that is not entirely new in some of the emerging economies. It’s working well in India, where in one of the states it’s supporting a population of 112 million and 12,000 ambulances.