mDoc saves lives through chronic disease support
“I saw the opportunity to leverage technology to reach people so that the stories would instead be of lives well lived.”
mDoc helps people and healthcare providers in Africa to prevent and manage chronic conditions. We sat down with co-founder and CEO Nneka Mobisson to learn more about their mission, and why they believe they can change the African chronic disease landscape.
NNEKA, CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT YOUR MISSION?
Across sub-Saharan Africa, over 28 million people have died in the past decade from chronic conditions. From cardiac conditions to diabetes, we know these conditions can be maintained or even prevented with straightforward interventions, if patients have knowledge and support.
Our mission is to empower people to improve their own health outcomes through health literacy, backed by health provider support. We’ve shown that people can take simple, positive actions that directly lead to measurable improvements in their health.
WHAT MADE YOU WANT TO TAKE ON THIS MISSION?
I’m from Nigeria, where my dad was a very prominent professor of engineering. He always emphasized to us the importance of investing in technology. At age 52 he suffered a stroke, and died of complications. Despite his brilliance, he didn’t have the knowledge or a team to help him manage the uncontrolled blood pressure that led to his stroke.
As an adult, I recognized that this devastating personal story was not unique. People were dying in their 30s and 40s from the same condition, and the systems weren’t changing. My co-founder Imo and I saw the opportunity to leverage technology to reach people so that the stories would instead be of lives well lived.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR CHALLENGES AND HOW YOU APPROACH THEM?
There are three stages when it comes to managing people’s health, and each has challenges which we uniquely address.
First: The self - knowing what to do preventatively, and when to reach out for care. We provide Complete Health, a mobile-based self-care support system that provides guidance, education, and nudges via AI chatbots and virtual coaching. It’s supported by our “Nudge Hubs”- real world facilities and roving ambassadors of health that educate users.
Second: Once care is sought, there are challenges in financial and logistical means to reach a quality care facility. We provide a directory of health care facilities and providers with patient reviews called Navihealth, which increases care quality and trust.
Third: Access to skilled care at these facilities, where wait times can be long, and staff can be inefficient or undertrained. We have a digital platform to train providers on providing evidence-based clinical care for chronic disease management.
WHAT KIND OF IMPACT HAVE YOU BEEN ABLE TO MAKE?
Since 2016 we’ve had over 100,000 members enrolled on the Complete Health platform, 87% of which are women. The majority make less than $3 a day, so we’re really reaching the most vulnerable populations. We’ve also trained over 8,000 health care workers, with partner hubs across Nigeria and Kenya, in managing maternal health, chronic disease, cancer, and more.
We’re incredibly data and evidence-based, identifying markers we can help our users collect and monitor, like systolic blood pressure, which lead directly to lives saved. We’ve seen how a bean grinder who lives in a room with 10 other people and buys 2 individual blood pressure pills a week can track their blood pressure, learn how to exercise within their means, and reduce their need for medications.
As a result of usage of our platforms and training, we’ve seen our members exercise 5x more than before, become over 2x more health literate, and can point to tens of thousands of lives saved.
WHAT MADE YOU JOIN STARTUPS FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT? WHAT VALUE DID YOU GET FROM PARTICIPATING?
We were at an inflection point where we needed to prioritize building our AI platform, and believed Google could help us do it strategically. The program’s focus on SDGs was super important to us because we’re impact driven and impact first, so it aligned with our values.
The same way we provide holistic health support, we get holistic support from Google. The technical advice on building our AI-enabled chatbot reduced the load on our human coaches. The product support has brought more customer-focus and rigor into our processes. The HR support has helped us with team building, talent acquisition, and retention. Even the positive encouragement from the advisors who reflect back to us our incredible progress has been so important to the team’s morale, it’s really meant a lot to us.
When we face tough challenges as a company, we always start with “Did you Google it?”. It used to mean to run a Google search, but with our involvement in Startups for Sustainable Development, it’s come to mean “Have you asked an advisor?” It’s a key part of everything we do.
WHAT ARE YOU HOPING TO ACHIEVE IN THE COMING YEAR?
Next year we plan to scale into more countries, including finalizing registration in Kenya. We’re going to double our reach while staying laser focused on impact. We also need to grow as a company - we’ve grown from 10 to 65 in the last year, and next year we need that number to go up by 1.5x. To support such ambitious growth we know we need to renew our focus on “SQG for the SDGs” - Standardization, Quality, and Growth to achieve the SDGs.
Thank you Nneka and mDoc for sharing with us their powerful story of impact and their experiences participating in the Startups for Sustainable Development program.
Learn more about mDoc
Apply to participate in Startups for Sustainable Development
“The same way we provide holistic health support, we get holistic support from Google. ”