Scalable, Automated Healthcare with Dr. Elsa
We utilize cutting edge technology to empower doctors and institutions to provide smarter, better healthcare for patients in East Africa.
Tanzania has one of the worst doctor-to-patient ratios in the world (1:20,000), with over 75% of those doctors living in urban areas. There is a severe lack of specialists in the country and patients are required to travel long distances in order to receive specialty care. Patients face a broken hospital delivery system that perpetuates long wait times, expensive consultations, and low-quality care. As a result, many patients choose to self-diagnose and self-medicate, leading to prolonged sickness and antibiotic resistance. On the other hand, healthcare workers are often required to see many patients in a day, and, at the rural level, do not have the extensive training required to treat complex conditions. In addition, medical records are decentralized and not often in digital form, making tracking of patient medical history almost impossible.
Our solution is Dr. Elsa, a data-powered, smart Health Assistant that aims to improve the national state of health through affordable, inclusive, and high quality access to health expertise. We do this in two ways: supporting care providers in making diagnoses through smart insights (powered by data and Artificial Intelligence) and delivering health services and information directly to patients through a mobile application.
Dr. Elsa supports healthcare providers by using Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence to make diagnoses, develop disease outbreak prediction models, and better understand their patients. The platform is delivered through a mobile or web application to health workers at the village or district levels and allows the health worker to collect data from the patient, receive insights that support the diagnosis of the patient, and stores patient health data in a secure, digital file that can be accessed at any time with the patient’s consent.
The Dr. Elsa patient application is accessible by anyone in the country and allows individuals to ask health questions to doctors remotely through their mobile phone, receive quality information, locate testing facilities, and get treatment recommendations. Patients can submit a complaint on behalf of themselves or their child, and they have access to their digital, encrypted medical information directly on their mobile phone.
Our services are currently available in both English and Swahili.
We work closely with district and regional medical officers, as well as the Ministry of Health in Tanzania, to collect data, train our diagnostic models, and implement our services. The ability to have access to smart tools, health information, and doctors through a mobile phone is highly valuable, especially for those who are unable to regularly access medical care services. For healthcare workers, we are innovating within their practices and the standard of care, as well as working in collaboration with government and private institutions to develop tools that directly impact the way they diagnose and treat patients.
Dr. Elsa was created because we saw a gap in access and delivery of medical care services in Tanzania and East Africa. We aim to fill this gap by providing smart, affordable, and inclusive healthcare for all.
Where our solution team is headquartered or located:Arusha, Tanzania
The dimensions of the Challenge our solution addresses:
What makes our solution innovative:
Dr. Elsa utilizes cutting edge technology to empower doctors and institutions to provide better care services for patients. We have developed and trained machine learning models that are able to input patient symptoms and demographics and output infectious disease diagnoses with an accuracy of 93%. As a patient-facing service, we are tapping into one of the fastest growing smartphone networks to offer a service that is historically expensive, low-quality, and inaccessible. Our tools are also designed to be utilized by rural healthcare workers without access to specialist doctors/information.
How technology is integral to our solution:
Our smart diagnostic systems run on the cloud, as well as users phones and computers, allowing doctors and patients to give and receive high quality, inclusive healthcare services. These smart algorithms are developed by collecting and digitizing thousands of medical records and teaching the computer to find patterns and “learn” from the data to assist doctors and healthcare workers in diagnosing their patients.
Our service leverages telecommunication infrastructure to connect patients and doctors through internet based mobile/web applications. Doctors receive insights about their patients, even if the patient is on the other side of the country.
Our solution goals over the next 12 months:
Over the next 12 months, we plan on developing additional partnerships to collect/analyze data, as well as run pilots in more locations to confirm accuracy of our tools. Currently, we are piloting autonomous diagnosis of cervical cancer and 202 infectious diseases. We will complete these pilots, and pursue additional partnerships based on our outcomes by September.
For the patient-facing service, we are building additional features that are 1) focused towards mothers and children, and will provide tools and information to track the development of a child, and 2) nutrition and healthy living tools and information.
Our vision over the next three to five years to grow and scale our solution to affect the lives of more people:
Our vision is to create a smart health assistant that is accessible to patients and healthcare providers all across East Africa.
For patients, we hope to develop a smart and intuitive personal health assistant that is accessible across a range of devices and in various languages. Since our assistant is automated, care will be more convenient, personalized, and affordable than current health services.
For health institutions, we hope to create a smart system that integrates into the current healthcare workflow so that doctors are able to support their patients both inside the hospital, and when they go home.
The key characteristics of the populations who will benefit from our solution in the next 12 months:
The regions where we will be operating in the next 12 months:
The countries where we currently operate:
Where we plan to expand in the next 12 months:
How we will reach and retain our customers or beneficiaries:
Dr. Elsa has two target customers: healthcare providers (govt. and private) and the general public.
Our users are acquired through social media and print marketing in the cities where we operate. We have had moderate success through these channels, and plan to retain customers by introducing additional features that will position Dr. Elsa as a health necessity.
Our institution customers are strategic partnerships we have developed through personal networks. Once our tools have been tested, we will approach larger institutions, including the government, to license our tools. We currently have three health providers testing and using our smart services.
How many people we are currently serving with our solution:
We have been offering the Health Assistant application to patients for free to gauge interest and uptake, as well as reach those who are unable to afford traditional medical services. Our services have been in production since January and we have provided free medical consultations and information through our mobile application to over six hundred patients, 56% of whom are females.
We also serve three health providers in Tanzania who are testing and using our tools for autonomous diagnosis of infectious diseases and cervical cancer. These health institutions range from village-level dispensaries to the country’s only national cancer institute.
How many people we will be serving with our solution in the 12 months and the next 3 years:
In five years from now, we expect to be providing smart medical care services through our platform to 5 million people. In addition, we expect to be reaching an additional 20 million patients through our network of institutions.
We expect to be supporting 10,000 healthcare workers through their institutions with smart tools that are able to assist with diagnostics, disease outbreak predictions, and medical image analysis.
How our solution team is organized:For-Profit
How many people work on our solution team:5
How many years we have been working on our solution:1-2 years
The skills our solution team has that will enable us to attract the different resources needed to succeed and make an impact:
Our team of passionate entrepreneurs has a diverse range of skills and come from various backgrounds and professions. We have team members who are experienced in machine learning, artificial intelligence, software development, and systems design, as well as team members who are knowledgeable about, and connected to, the healthcare ecosystem in Tanzania. Our team is skilled in project management and measurement/ evaluation.
Our entire team is incredibly passionate about developing solutions using technology and is committed to learning and understanding new resources as we grow our venture.
Our revenue model:
We are currently in the prototype phase. We have been offering our Health Assistant service (beta) to patients for free to gauge interest and uptake, as well as reach those who are unable to afford traditional medical services.
Our business model is to license the data-powered insight tools to health institutions once they have been validated. This includes hospitals, pharmacies, labs, and the government (rural health centers and dispensaries). Institutions will use the tools alongside their own healthcare providers to better understand and diagnose patients.
As we add more features to the patient-facing service, including communication with specialists, autonomous diagnosing, and chronic care management (alpha), we will charge a subscription (or monthly) fee for the service directly to patients following the SaaS model.
Why we are applying to Solve:
We believe that Solve provides a unique opportunity to connect with mentors and innovators who are developing health solutions aimed at positively impact the lives of individuals around the world. We hope to learn from others and understand new ways to implement our solutions for high impact. We believe this will help increase impact to the community and ensure that people have access to technology-powered healthcare services.
The key barriers for our solution:
1. The mHealth space growing quickly, meaning we need to be quick to market. Solve can help with strategic partnerships.
2. Technology access and literacy: Patients and institutions need access to a smartphone/ computer, and internet. We are training people at institutions to use the tools and with telecom providers to provide feature phone access.
3. Adoption by government and institutions is slow due to inertia in medicine - Solve can support by providing a platform to showcase our work.
The types of connections and partnerships we would be most interested in if we became Solvers: