Ifeanyi Ossai is the Co-founder and CEO of CribMD – a doctor house call and telemedicine company designed to enable effective and efficient doctor-on-demand services. In this piece by Rebecca Ejifoma, he shares ideas on how CribMD is using technology for patients to get care, and strategies to closing the gaps in the nation’s healthcare system.
Tell us about yourself
Prior to CribMD, I was the Director of Research and Development for NEOtech, an Aerospace and Defense firm in Los Angeles, California. Before joining NEOTech, I was the Co-Founder and CEO of a metal additive manufacturing company that has since been acquired. I am an Alumni of Pittsburgh University and my passion is to democratise healthcare in Africa by delivering quality, affordable, and accessible healthcare to Africans.
What is CribMD all about?
CribMD is a doctor house call and telemedicine platform designed to enable effective and efficient doctor-on-demand services with the goal of becoming the standard for medical services. At CribMD, our doctor house call and telemedical solutions allow individuals, irrespective of who they are, to connect directly with over 20,000 highly experienced health professionals via phone, instant messaging, video calls, or our mobile app.
Our services include Doctor House Call, Telemedicine, Online Pharmacy and Health Insurance with our patients enjoying benefits like real-time health information and advice, fast and responsive healthcare service and online pharmacy with a simple delivery system.
Covid-19 exposed several gaps in Nigeria’s healthcare sector. What are some of these gaps, and how can they be addressed moving forward?
The state of healthcare infrastructure in Nigeria remains underdeveloped and it negatively impacts on economic productivity. The major gaps the pandemic has exposed in the Nigerian healthcare sector include weak primary healthcare systems, lack of sufficient medical equipment and poor Insurance Coverage.
These are some of the ways by which they can be addressed. Supply of adequate funds by the government to hospitals to ensure a constant supply of medical equipment and medications.
State governments should enroll low and middle-class residents in a private health insurance plan and bear the responsibility of paying the monthly premium per person to Health Maintenance Organisations (HMOs). This is because it is not only enough to have a national health insurance policy, but it is also vital to ensure that health insurance coverage is provided to the poor and most vulnerable populations as a matter of the human right to health.
The air around the country’s hospital environment is very contaminated and odious most of the time. It can infect other healthy people with new diseases due to microbial and fungal growth within the circulating air. Providing HVAC systems or, better still, adopting frequent use of telehealthcare will help solve the problem or minimise risk/damages.
Your work is primarily centered around healthcare innovation, what trends should we expect to see in healthcare locally post-covid?
The telehealth industry skyrocketed into the public’s consciousness during the pandemic, and it will continue to evolve and become more ingrained in our healthcare system even after the pandemic subsides. As patients become accustomed to the flexibility and convenience of telehealthcare, it will become mainstream and at the same time drive some trends including hospital-to-home visits and specialist access.
Normally, referrals to specialists involve months of waiting, additional expenses for patients, and travel. To make matters worse, a large portion of referrals end up being unnecessary (up to 40 per cent for some conditions). Telehealth can cut the wait time to see specialists. Through video consults, primary care physicians can easily meet with patients online and assess whether a separate visit is necessary for a patient. Specialists using video consults can reduce their workload by resolving issues at the primary physician level and can treat patients more efficiently by getting involved earlier on.
So far, what has been your greatest challenge running CribMD, and how have you addressed this challenge?
Keeping up with huge demand and funding. Keeping up with skyrocketing demand and funding is a major constraint in the telemedicine industry. Our engineers are all hands on deck working to keep the site up and running. Your question reminds me of what spurred me to venture into the healthcare niche. I will give you the template that I started with, in a bid to solve the problem. I started running clinic centers in a rural village in Delta State, Nigeria after an experience of losing a relative who couldn’t make it on time to the closest clinic.
The idea was to bring the clinics closer to the community, sort of like a community health care center. But then, the numbers grew; doctors could not meet the demand of the patients and the facilities were not enough for the population; so, we built another at a nearby location and then another. Yet the numbers kept rising. It was there and then that the idea of digitizing quality healthcare hit me. With CribMD, we have been able to reach many more people. Patients have the option of “summoning” a doctor to their home or having a video consultation.
Where do you see CribMD in the next five years?
Within the next five years, I see CribMD as a household name in Africa. Also, I could see CribMD going public on the stock exchange or going into a merger with one of our high performing competitors, leveraging on their strength to deliver more quality and affordable healthcare across Africa.
Where is CribMD today?
CribMD is changing the experience of healthcare delivery in Africa; watch out for us. Start your journey to better health today by visiting www.cribmd.com to sign up or find us on the iOS or Google app stores.