Access to healthcare for the blue-collar worker

In the context of sustainable, affordable, innovative models that provide access to health care to disadvantaged communities, Philips Foundation and Ashoka partner with social entrepreneur in health care, Moka Lantum, CEO of Sagitarix Ltd, to promote technology in medical support for low-wage workers in Kenya and South Sudan.

In many Sub-Saharan African countries, large parts of the population cannot afford healthcare (if services are available at all), while medical providers struggle to maintain accurate inventory counts and records. Availability, affordability and quality of healthcare provision are recurring challenges in developing countries. 

The healthcare challenge includes medical costs that continue to rise at 15% annually; only the insured can go for rather expensive outpatient care in high-end hospitals; while a majority of East-African health insurance companies faced underwriting losses in 2019 and companies are opting out of health benefits for their employees, as the premiums are simply prohibitive. Efficient qualitative healthcare facilities, combined with smart healthcare technology, are needed to address these challenges.

Access to affordable care

Social entrepreneur, Dr. Moka Lantum, has from a young age innately offered solutions to the problems and inequalities he sees around him, including access to safe and affordable medicine. He is an innovator in digital healthcare technology. His mobile app called iSikCure, allows patients to instantly find out the price and availability of medicines and health products in local pharmacies – a service which delivers medicines to patients in rural areas – and a health management IT system that allows healthcare workers to see patients, document medical records, and keep track of drug inventory in real time. 

As the Philips Foundation is constantly looking for sustainable, affordable, innovative models that help provide access to healthcare for underserved communities, Ashoka has put Dr. Lantum on Philips Foundation’s radar, both sharing the mission of providing access to quality healthcare for disadvantaged communities by exploring innovative technology-enabled solutions.

Clinic digitalization, enabling wider healthcare access through clinics

Most recently, Philips Foundation has teamed up with Sagitarix Ltd, Dr. Lantum’s holding company, to expand the reach and services of their medical clinics branded CheckUps. CheckUps clinics provide a variety of healthcare services including cancer screenings, mammograms, ultrasounds, and vaccine administration at a reduced price.

One key aspect of the CheckUps model is that its services target the 25 most frequent outpatient conditions which account for 80% of medical claims in the region, including respiratory tract infections. This focus affords cost-efficiency care at 30-40% below market rates. 

“Employers can't afford the private insurance premiums for their blue-collar staff. In Kenya alone, over 75% of employees are blue-collar workers, yet 90% can’t conveniently access treatment during work hours”, Margot Cooijmans, Director of the Philips Foundation said. “What I see as success factors for growth of the CheckUps model, are the focus on the 25 conditions that account for 80% of outpatient claims; being 25-40% more cost-efficient in comparison to the market; their technology and analytics enable high touch personalized care; and that they are located in industrial parks for optimal work-to-clinic access.”

Through employers with many low-wage workers, CheckUps is able to reach households earning below $400 a month. By collaborating with the employers, they provide quality healthcare to their employees including in-company prevention and education programs. The workers stay healthy and they can keep on providing income for their families and other relatives, with CheckUps facilities being closely located to the workplaces.

Expanding CheckUps

CheckUps is planning an expansion to 25 sites in the next 3-5 years. This also meets the demand from several insurance companies working with Moka Lantum, because they are seeking to offer more affordable insurance products to low-wage workers. In addition, the CheckUps clinics in Juba, South Sudan, and Nairobi, Kenya, have recently been equipped for rapid testing of respiratory pathogens including the novel coronavirus.

In response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, official authorities in both Kenya and South Sudan want to refer travelers who require rapid coronavirus testing to airport clinics, as no other institution in the area can conduct these tests. Due to the close cooperation with Dr. Lantum, the Philips Foundation was able to provide screening equipment for rapid testing. This has ensured that the only outpatient clinics near the respective international airports of Juba and Nairobi can now also screen for the novel coronavirus, making CheckUps clinics an automatic first-line provider for travelers with flu-like symptoms.