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Business News

Our major challenge is eliminating paper – Tito Ovia of Helium Health

Dealing with paper documentation meant that there was always going to be a backlog of data to validate.

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Tito Ovia 4, Our major challenge is eliminating paper - Tito Ovia of Helium Health

For a health sector that has, for decades, depended on paper documentation for filing of medical records and history, going digital can well be likened to pouring new wine into an old wineskin.

This is why Tito Ovia, co-founder and head of Public Sector Growth at Helium Health – a healthtech company devoted to digitising Nigeria’s healthcare delivery system – explained that the company’s major challenge has been about eliminating paper in the system.

Some people have lived their years and built their entire careers around the paper documentation. Keeping records and files in cabinets and moving them from one office to the other has been some person’s entire job, so they are of course not disposed to the idea of taking paper out of the entire process,” she explained.

READ: Doctors are free to leave Nigeria, we have more than enough – Chris Ngige

This, she said, is the core of the company’s existence. Being in the 21st century, it is time to move beyond the years where the hospital staff spend precious time looking for a patient’s file and medical records, time that could be the thin line between life and death.

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Tito was a guest on Nairametrics’ Business Half Hour programme when she disclosed all these. According to her, she always knew about the deficiencies in Nigeria’s health sector, and pictured herself becoming that medical doctor who would change the health delivery system in the country.

However, when she could not get into medical school after two attempts, she decided to study Bio-Medical sciences at the University of Manchester. While taking the course, she developed interest in public health primarily because it has to do with helping a community of people access better health. This later influenced the start of her career in the Lagos State AIDS Control Agency.

Spotting a challenge

While working with the team to conduct tests and carrying out HIV counselling for patients within Lagos state, Tito observed a documentation problem.

There were just too many papers involved in documentation and it was clear that the system could not be organised. Compiling records and stats for the government using papers had a lot of issues, and there was of course the problem of accuracy of figures,” she explained during the show.

Dealing with paper documentation meant that there was always going to be a backlog of work to do, and data to validate, and in a fast-paced world where time is of essence to saving a life, Tito realised that something had to be done.

Working hand-in-hand with her friends and partners, Adegoke Olubusi and Dimeji Sofowora, Helium Health was founded in 2016 as an all-encompassing healthcare solution for the Nigerian health sector.

Healthcare solution for all

Heliumhealth has a suite of healthcare solutions that caters to providers of healthcare, and all players in the sector.

There is the EMR (electronic management records) solutions that digitises the entire process so that staff of medical facilities are not running helter-skelter in search of files and paperwork before treating a patient. With a tap of the finger, they can access the patients’ records and medical history.

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Ultimately, Ovia explains, the aim is to have an integrated healthcare delivery system, rather than the fragmented health system which is currently obtainable in Nigeria.

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You should be able to work into any hospital without any card, and get treated when they access your records. And then, they could send your prescription digitally to the pharmacy where you simply stop by and pick it without having to take any hand-written prescription,” she stated.

At a time when several reports have claimed that thousands of deaths occur annually from poorly written prescriptions, and some from wrong prescriptions due to lack of access to a patient’s medical history, this is definitely a welcome addition to the health sector system.

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Another target of Helium Health is providing data. Year after year, government makes budgetary allocations to the health sector based on speculations instead of valid statistics. Having an integrated real-time record across the country means that the government would be able to get access to real-time information on what is going on in the health sector.

At every point, the government should know if there is any increase in the occurrence of malaria for instance in a particular community, or which community is having more maternal deaths at every time. With this, budgets can be made knowing the right places to channel funds and infrastructure.”

This can hardly be possible when there are still lots of health institutions keeping fragmented records, and traditional nurses and birth attendants whose records rarely get into any central system.

A special solution for a special market

Unlike many other countries, Nigeria has a market where a significant percentage of the would-be users of the Helium Health application had limited computer literacy. Some have not had cause to use any applications that is more complex than Facebook, and this according to Tito is the reason that previous similar solutions from foreign companies failed.

We decided that we were going to build something that had all the functionalities but is as exciting and simple to use as possible. With our design, anyone that can use WhatsApp or Facebook should be able to use it with little efforts.” 

To compensate for job losses that could result from adopting the technology, Tito explained that Helium Health tries to equip such staff with necessary computer skills so that they can easily fit into the digital century with their digital skills.

Helium Health also makes provision for every challenge that could come up in the course of providing its service to clients.

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We spent a year and a half making mistakes and perfecting solutions for that kind of market, so we are providing the solutions, the network, devices, infrastructure, and every kind of challenge or limitation that could come up.”

So where is the money?

The Nigerian market is a very unique and interesting one where solutions have been tailored to the market. Introducing a technology like Helium Health has its challenges especially when it comes to getting businesses to part with their money.

Tito explained in the show that the company uses a flexible model adapting several payment patters to suit its clients.

There is the subscription-based model for the private sector, where the institution has to pay a fixed sum for a patient per year. This practical model saves them from parting with a lump sum immediately but still allows them enjoy the benefits of the platform, only paying for as many patients as they have.  Under this plan, they do not have to renew that subscription fee until the patient shows up the next year.

READ MORE: Robotic Surgery possibility in Nigeria

There are however those institutions that would not want to be bothered with making additional payments every time they have a new patient, and so they opt for a one-time annual license fee which covers all patients (irrespective of the number) throughout the year, until the next year where they have to renew the license fee.

It is a flexible structure where institutions just have to opt for the plans that suit them at the time.

Ruth Okwumbu has a MSc. and BSc. in Mass Communication from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, and Delta state university respectively. Prior to her role as analyst at Nairametrics, she had a progressive six year writing career.As a Business Analyst with Narametrics, she focuses on profiles of top business executives, founders, startups and the drama surrounding their successes and challenges. You may contact her via [email protected]

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Economy & Politics

Senate President lists benefits of PIB as public hearing on the bill opens

Ahmad Lawan has listed the benefits of the PIB presently before the National Assembly for consideration.

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Senate president warns about dangers of youth unemployment, National Assembly to ensure youth empowerment schemes are realized - Lawan

The President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, has said that the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) which is presently before the National Assembly for consideration and passage will ensure that Nigerians benefit optimally from crude oil production and sale of fossil fuel reserves.

According to a statement that was issued by the Special Assistant, Press to the Senate President, Tabiowo Ezrel, this disclosure was made by Lawan, while declaring open a 2-day public hearing on the bill by the National Assembly on Monday, January 25, 2021.

The Senate President pointed out that the National Assembly in its consideration of the piece of legislation would ensure that the bill when passed into law, guarantees improved revenue earnings for the country.

What the Senate President is saying

Lawan in his statement said, ‘’Let me say this, we (National Assembly) will pass this bill not without ensuring that it is a bill that satisfies certain conditions. Nigeria is blessed with these resources, we want Nigeria to benefit optimally from them. In fact, we are in a hurry because we have lost so many years of benefits that we could have had.’’

He, however, noted that the non-passage of the PIB had been a major drag on the industry over the years, significantly limiting its ability to attract both local and foreign capital at a time when many other countries are scrambling to exploit their oil and gas resources.

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Going further, Lawan said, ‘’The mere knowledge that the nation’s oil industry is still being governed by laws enacted more than 50 years ago is ludicrous and extremely disappointing.

‘’As legislators, we will strive to deliver a Bill that will enhance the growth of our oil and gas industry, modernize our fiscal system and enhance competitiveness, while creating harmony for all stakeholders. This is a promise we have made and that we shall achieve.’’

‘’Nigeria must have an oil and gas industry that benefits its people. Equally, our oil and gas industry must be competitive. We must create a sustainable investment climate, where business in the sector will flourish,’’ he said.

He also added that the determination by the legislature to pass the Bill is driven by the need to overhaul a system that has refused to operate optimally in line with global standards, resulting in loss of continental competitiveness, transparency, accountability, good governance and economic loss for the petroleum industry and the country.

The Different chapters of the PIB

The Senate President revealed that the PIB comprises of 4 chapters that outline;

  • How to create efficient and effective governing institutions with clear and separate roles for the petroleum industry,
  • Establish a framework for the creation of a commercially oriented and profit-driven National Petroleum Company,
  • Promote transparency, good governance and accountability in the administration of the petroleum resources of Nigeria among others.

Other benefits of the PIB

He also noted that the PIB upon passage and assent into law by the President;

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  • Would foster sustainable prosperity within host communities, provide direct social and economic benefits from petroleum operations to host communities,
  • Create a framework to support the development of host communities among others
  • Establish a progressive fiscal framework that encourages investment in the Nigerian Petroleum Industry,
  • Balancing rewards with risk and enhancing revenues to the Federal Government of Nigeria,
  • Provide a forward-looking fiscal framework that is based on core principles of clarity, dynamism and fiscal rules of general applications,
  • Establish a fiscal framework that expands the revenue base of the Federal Government while ensuring a fair return to investors.

Lawan assured that the National Assembly during the public hearing would deal with all issues relating to the oil and gas industry with thoroughness and effectiveness so as to avert colossal losses to the nation’s economy.

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Spotlight Stories

Nigeria’s Sparkle partners with Network International for virtual and physical payment cards

Nigeria’s Sparkle signs with payment experts Network International for virtual and physical payment cards.

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Nigerian fintech startup Sparkle, a digital ecosystem providing financial, lifestyle, and business support services, has partnered with Network International, to power its recently launched payment card offering.

This is coming months after collaborating with Visa to enable them to issue Visa cards to its users.

Founded by former Diamond Bank chief executive officer (CEO) and tech entrepreneur, Uzoma Dozie with the aim of providing seamless solutions to Nigerian individuals, SMEs, and retailers. Sparkle’s new virtual and plastic debit cards are targeted at SMEs and upwardly mobile, unbanked consumers across Nigeria, bringing them the convenience, flexibility, safety, and security of cashless payments across various channels.

What they are saying

  • According to Uzoma Dozie, “Digital adoption and customer experience are going to be dependent on the people, platform, and partnership. In the area of payment processing and data insights, Network International brings that to our platform, and we are truly excited about the future of the partnership and what it means for the enablement and transformational impact for Nigerians anywhere in the world who are connected to the Sparkle platform.”
  • Also speaking on this new partnership, Andrew Key, Managing Director – Africa, Network International, said, “We are delighted to strengthen our strategic alliance with Sparkle as it seeks to further disrupt the payments offering to consumers and retailers in Nigeria. Building on our two decades of experience within payments and deep insight of the African market, we look forward to deploying our trusted platform and best-in-class technology towards supporting digital and financial inclusion of Nigerian consumers and businesses.”

Sparkles’ collaboration with Network International is based on their shared commitment to further the adoption of digital payments among emerging markets across Africa and the Middle East. Its users can make in-app payments with the new virtual card, and also make e-commerce transactions with the cards attached to their Sparkle profile.

This collaboration will offer Sparkle access to the Network’s years of experience and expertise in creating card solutions for emerging markets. The company can also benefit from Network’s advanced digital infrastructure and robust security protocols, avoiding the need to invest in expensive card management infrastructure.

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Appointments

AFEX appoints Kamaldeen Raji as MD of AFEX Fair Trade Limited

Mr Kamaldeen Raji has been appointed as the Managing Director of AFEX Fair Trade Limited.

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AFEX appoints Kamaldeen Raji as Managing Director of AFEX Fair Trade Limited

Leading commodities market player, AFEX has announced the appointment of Kamaldeen Raji as the Managing Director of AFEX Fair Trade Limited (AFEX Fair Trade).

This information was contained in an exclusive disclosure sent to Nairametrics today the 25th of January 2021.

According to the information contained in the press statement, the appointment is in line with AFEX’s mandate of strengthening trade infrastructure for Nigeria’s commodities market, while providing support for smallholder farmers, who are key players in the agricultural value chain.

What they are saying

The CEO of AFEX, Ayodeji Balogun, who commented on the appointment of the New Managing Director, said:

  • “I am delighted to have Kamaldeen stepping into the leadership at AFEX as the Managing Director of AFEX Fair Trade. This is in alignment with AFEX’s five-year strategy that consolidates the best aspects of our business into business units that will deliver impressive wins in trading, financing and market system development for Africa’s commodities market.”

Kamaldeen Raji, Managing Director, AFEX Fair Trade limited said:

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  • “AFEX has delivered on its promise for a working commodities exchange model for West Africa after six years of operations in Nigeria. I am excited to join the executive leadership to contribute to our next five years as a business.”
  • “As I drive our strategy to reach one million farmers and expand our national storage capacity to 500,000 MT over the next five years, AFEX Fair Trade will build on the success of previous years.”
  • “Through AFEX Fair Trade, AFEX will continue to contribute to impact metrics that align with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 1, 2, 5, and 8; no poverty, zero hunger, gender equality, and decent work and economic growth.”

Kamaldeen prior to his appointment as the Managing Director of AFEX Fair Trade Limited had previously served in Commercial Manager’s capacity for AFEX. This position monitored all commercial partnerships with a focus to drive revenue activities and growth opportunities.

It is important to note that, AFEX Fair Trade is one of AFEX’s business units, responsible for commodities trading and storage, the company is charged with the task of providing extension services to farmers in a bid to boost their productivity and incomes across all segments of the agricultural value chain.

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