Our story begins with Dr. Ransford Hoyah-Quarshie, a prominent physician and hospital administrator in Ghana working in the Sunyani Regional Hospital.
As an administrator working to grow healthcare in Ghana, Dr. Hoyah-Quarshie struggled with the problem of keeping physicians happy and working within Ghana. His problem was severe: as many as 75% of medical graduates in Ghana were leaving the country due to poor and inconsistent reimbursements.
We knew that to solve Dr. Hoyah-Quarshie’s problem we needed to develop a solution that creates a consistent, adaptable, and scalable payment system to their physicians. This is how DirectDoc was born.
We created DirectDoc to become the first scalable, data-driven, and patient centered mobile platform to transform healthcare delivery for millions of Ghanians. By combining an innovative mobile platform with partnerships with Ghanian physicians and large farming consortiums, we use a sustainable, grassroots approach to increase access to primary care to the richest and poorest patients in the country.
We want to ensure that all people have access to primary care, regardless of resources and geography. We aim to empower physicians in Africa with our technology to provide comprehensive primary care to those patients who need it the most.
TAKING ON A PUZZLE IN HEALTHCARE
In Ghana, adoption of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) has improved access to primary care, especially for the maternal and rural populations, and pays for ~40% of the healthcare costs of Ghana’s citizens. Yet an additional 35-40% of citizens in Ghana have no coverage at all and pay for their costs out-of-pocket, termed “cash and carry”.
ACCESSIBLE PRIMARY CARE
A 2021 report released by the Africa Health Agenda International Conference (hosted by Amref Health Africa) identified that approximately 50% of African citizens lack access to necessary medical care.
TOWARDS A GROWING AFRICA
Africa’s population is rapidly expanding. A recent article highlights that the label of “world’s most populated cities” will be predominantly held by cities in Africa. Coupled with the overall low access to physicians that dominates sub-Saharan Africa (including Ghana), there is opportunity to improve on public health and healthcare expenditure per capita. Just as critical is driving the healthcare sector towards digitization.
Direct Primary Care is a relatively new payment model that allows patients to essentially subscribe to their physician or other healthcare provider of choice. By circumventing the insurance process, patients have direct control of their costs and physicians have complete reimbursement of the fees for services offered. We want to start at the most basic level - connecting patients to primary care physicians (internal medicine, family medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics/gynecology). Patients are empowered by being able to choose services that are within their budget and location, while physicians benefit from regular income and decreased administrative overhead by using our digital platform. Our solution has the added benefit of starting the digitization process for Ghana's most remote clinics, who rely on paper charts for scheduling, record keeping, and financial transactions.
TEAM AND VALUES
DirectDoc makes diversity of both background and skill a foundational aspect of its business. Dr. Olayiwola is a Nigerian-American female and physician resident at UT Houston leading our global health research in Africa. Isaac Osei, a Ghanian-American with wide connections in both healthcare and agriculture in Ghana, leads our technology development there. He supervises a team of Ghanian developers building our platform. Hassan Qureshi, a Pakistani-Indian-American, is an MD candidate at Saint Louis University School of Medicine who worked as an EPIC consultant and designs our platform architecture to ensure data security and regulatory compliance. Austin McCullough, a PhD candidate at Washington University School of Medicine, is an expert in artificial intelligence and blockchain, designing our platform to leverage these technologies. Cristian Cirjan, a Romanian-American MD candidate at Saint Louis University, leads the team with his passion for global health and innovation. Although we are diverse in our background and experiences, we share a deep commitment to use our unique insights to increase access to healthcare across the developing world.
Isaac Osei is the current CTO of DigiExt, a digital supply chain platform servicing 1.2 million farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa. He is also a consultant at Vanderbilt Medical Innovation Center, with 12 years experience in software, network engineering, data science, and artificial intelligence.