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This Nigerian Startup Uses Algorithms To Predict Health Risks

Talk of infusing innovation in an idea, a Nigerian e-health startup called WellNewMe has done a great job.

They developed a web-based health risk assessment tool specifically designed to act as an early warning system for non-communicable diseases such as cardiac disease, cancer and diabetes.

Launched last year, WellNewMe is focused on illnesses affected by lifestyle choices, and has built a tool that can detect and stratify individual health risks and make specific recommendations for preventive health activity. 

Dr Obi Igbowe, Founder of WellNewMe

“We do this by sending a unique ID to users to be onboarded to the platform. On signing in, they are presented with a survey about their lifestyle. The data they provide is analysed by algorithms to stratify individual risks. Then each user is presented with a personalised dashboard outlying their risks with recommendations,” WellNewMe co-founder Dr Obi Igbokwe told Disrupt Africa.

The startup’s algorithmic approach means its platform can be used by individuals, as well as health insurance companies to determine the health risks of their policyholders. WellNewMe’s immediate focus is on corporate employees, however.

“According to the global Wellness Institute, only one per cent of employees in Africa have access to a workplace wellbeing programme. However, the incidence of non-communicable diseases and premature deaths as a result of these diseases are increasing,” Igbokwe said. 

“WHO estimates that by 2030, non-communicable diseases will become the leading cause of death in Sub-Saharan Africa, accounting for more than half of all deaths.”

WellNewMe looks to fix this problem by allowing businesses to offer their employees access to wellbeing programmes. It now has five corporate entities, including one of the biggest banks in Nigeria and the Nigerian operations of a Japanese automobile manufacturer, using its platform, with users totalling around 9,000.

“We are also in talks with a number of pharmaceutical companies who are looking to partner to use our tool within their own network of healthcare providers to standardise the treatment of care for patients with non-communicable diseases, as well as identify those who are at risk of developing complications for these diseases,” said Igbokwe.

The self-funded startup is planning on releasing mobile apps in the next couple of months, and kicking off a community wellness initiative which will see it roll out specially-designed solar-powered kiosks in underserved areas where individuals can have their assessments done. Currently only operating in Nigeria, it is eyeing other West African markets, and subsequently the rest of the continent.

For now, however, building up a client base at home is the major focus for Igbokwe and WellNewMe, which runs a subscription-based model for monthly access to the platform and generates additional revenue from add-on services from its existing partners.

“We are still very much a young company and pretty much an unknown brand, but we are working on a number of marketing strategies to help overcome that,” Igbokwe said. “Because our main focus has been corporate entities we have had to adjust to the fact that they have budget cycles, meaning we are still learning the best time to approach each individual organisation regarding the best time to pitch our solution to them.”

Source: DisruptAfrica

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