MedRX is a new app in Accra – launched by three young Ghanaians – that connects patients to pharmacies to ensure they can simply and easily access the medicine they need.
In Ghana’s capital, pharmacies often run out of stock before new supply can arrive. As a result, patients have to visit several pharmacies before finding the vital medicines they need. And MedRX aims to solve this problem.
Patients can download and sign up for the app at no cost. They can then search for the medicines they require and will be connected to the closest pharmacy holding stock. Users can also take a picture of their script and send it to the pharmacy, organise the time and place to collect their medicine, and select a payment method.
Furthermore, the app features a forum where users can ask questions to healthcare professionals. There are also plans to add an option to book doctor, clinic and hospital appointments to reduce waiting times.
The founders – Hayford Brako, Victoria Acheampong and Yannick Kabu Bosomprah – recently won the MTN Entrepreneurship Challenge for their work on MedRX, along with US$25,000 and an incubation opportunity.
Determined to bring change
The idea was born out of Brako’s (26) own frustration while working as a pharmacist last year. After graduating he was employed full-time at a pharmacy and watched patients trying to locate urgent medicine by visiting one pharmacy after another.
“I just felt like I couldn’t work as a pharmacist with this problem being so glaring and persistent. So I had an idea to do something about it and decided to change how pharmacies operate and people buy medication,” he explains.
“It is very daring… but I believe that if someone doesn’t attempt to do it then nothing will ever happen to solve the problem. So I’m daring and challenging myself to actually change the way pharmacies practise in Ghana and Africa.”
Brako and his co-founders managed to create a system through which pharmacies can access and record their inventory. When stock runs out it is easily updated on the system so that customers don’t make a trip in vain.
So far the app has had over 5,000 downloads and the team has managed to connect 512 pharmacies to the system in Accra. However, Brako says that getting some pharmacies to change the way they operate can be a challenge.
“We would like to connect every pharmacy – that is the goal. But getting the ‘corporate’ pharmacies to start using our system takes a lot of meetings and time,” he notes.
“This has to do with our credibility. We have not been in business for a long time. We only launched in January and started collecting revenue in March so we have not been around long enough for people to trust us completely… That is the challenge but we know with time people will realise that we are here to stay.”
MedRX is currently pursuing a number of revenue streams. The first is from earning commission from sales made via the app.
“When we connect a pharmacy [on the system] we convert them into a virtual pharmacy and that means we can take a commission on every sale that we make for them,” explains Brako.
The app also connects with insurance companies to provide their clients with support and keep records of scripts to manage claims.
“If there are any enquiries or problems with their insurance, we have all the information in our back-end system. So that is the work we do for insurance companies, which is also a good stream of revenue.”
The team is also exploring revenue options around supplying the healthcare sector with medicine consumption data that can inform strategic direction.
Brako has been involved in small entrepreneurial ventures since school and says he has always had a problem-solving attitude.
His advice to other young Africans looking to overcome the struggles of entrepreneurship is to make sure they pursue an idea they are happy to dedicate their life to.
“It should be your first love. You should be thinking about it all the time. It should be the reason you want to get out of bed every morning. If it is not, then the frustrations will be too much to keep you going,” he continues.
“The struggles are daily and if you are not in love with the business you will easily give up. That is what every entrepreneur needs to realise.”