$3 Million Pre-Series A Round Leads to New Digital Primary Care Platform for Africa

Following a pre-Series A round of USD 3 million, Webrock, the investment company that brought the number one digital health app in Brazil to South America, and Healthforce, a digital health company majority-owned by South Africa’s leading retail pharmacy chain Dis-Chem, will be taking the cutting-edge technology behind the second most downloaded doctor app in Europe, Doktor.se, to Africa. Doing so will provide the continent with a complete digital primary care platform. It will first be launching in South Africa, with a further continent-wide roll-out planned.

The platform, which makes use of a freemium model and innovative approaches to reduce data costs, offers on-demand and scheduled consultations with nurses, general practitioners, and mental health professionals, while also providing ongoing wellness management. Its design ensures a fully integrated end-to-end healthcare system that allows for a holistic and comprehensive view of each patient across different cadres of healthcare workers in order to allocate the most appropriate resource to meet the needs of the patient. Additionally, it will be incorporated into Healthforce’s network of 450 primary care clinics across South Africa where hands-on care will be provided if needed. The solution is set to reduce the cost of quality care while measurably improving health outcomes, reach patients in remote areas, and alleviate the pressure on the traditional medical support systems.

“Currently, only 16% of South Africans[i], 9% of Nigerians[ii] and 1% of Ugandans[iii] for example have medical scheme cover since the costs remain out of reach for the majority of the African population. While governments on the continent are attempting to make quality health services more accessible via national health insurance schemes, universal healthcare provision has not proven feasible seeing that there are people living in rural areas with little to no access to facilities, while others reside in urban areas and have these on their doorstep. But this new platform, to a large extent, ensures everyone can enjoy the same quality care from the same group of healthcare professionals, no matter where in Africa they are situated, as long as they have a cellphone and internet connection,” says Saul Kornik, CEO of Healthforce.

“Given the speed at which telehealth has grown over the past few years globally, coupled with our experience from successfully building Brazil’s largest digital health company, ViBe Saúde, there is a window of opportunity to transform access to healthcare on the African continent. With a large population and rapidly increasing smartphone and internet penetration, Africa is an obvious and attractive healthtech market opportunity. Using data is infinitely cheaper than having to spend time and money traveling to and from clinics, not to mention paying for the clinic visit itself,” adds Joshin Raghubar, Partner at Webrock Ventures Africa.

The partners believe that it is the perfect time to launch such a platform due to the digital adoption that accompanied the COVID-19 crisis which has made South Africans more comfortable with using tech to access services.

“We are happy to be a part of unlocking the potential of telemedicine in Sub-Saharan Africa. We’ve done this before with Webrock Ventures in Brazil and are proud to form a strategic partnership to repeat this success in a new market. Thanks to Healthforce’s impressive infrastructure, we believe that it will be possible to launch better and more accessible healthcare for everyone at a record pace.,” concludes Martin Lindman, Co-Founder & CEO at Doktor.se.

The newco aims to care for 75 million people in the next 10 years.

[i] https://www.globenewswire.com/news-release/2021/03/16/2193373/0/en/South-Africa-Medical-Aid-Funding-Report-2020-State-of-the-Industry-Low-Cost-Benefit-Options-Affordability-Outlook-Influencing-Factors-Competition-Industry-Associations.html

About Webrock Ventures

Webrock Ventures is an investment company that brings Swedish technology to emerging markets. In its venture-building model, Webrock partners with leading technology companies in Sweden, combining their proven business models with Webrock’s funding capabilities and unique operational expertise. By doing so, Webrock’s portfolio companies benefit from a critical head start that unleashes value creation at an accelerated pace with less risk. Webrock was founded in 2018 in Sweden. (www.webrockventures.com)

About Healthforce

Healthforce aims to improve healthcare through multidisciplinary clinical teams. To date, Healthforce has set up nurses in over 450 bricks-and-mortar clinics to act as the lowest-cost single-entry point into the healthcare system. From there, Healthforce-enabled clinics use its technology to, almost immediately, access doctors through video telemedicine. Over 1 million nurse consultations and over 110 000 telemedicine consultations have been conducted on Healthforce’s platform. Healthforce was founded in 2018 in South Africa. (www.healthforce.io)

About Doktor.se

Doktor.se is a digital-first healthcare company, and the second-most downloaded doctor app in Europe. Its platform allows patients to contact healthcare professionals through their smartphones across the whole spectrum of primary care. The company offers telemedicine services in Sweden. Also, it provides its telemedicine platform to the European veterinary care chain Anicura, Belgian telecommunications group Proximus, as well as Webrock Venture’s portfolio company ViBe Saúde in Brazil. In 2020 over 1,2 million patient consultations were done by Doktor.se, and all the companies’ healthcare apps are top-rated on App Store and Google Play. Doktor.se was founded in 2016 in Sweden. (www.doktor.se)

[ii] https://www.devex.com/news/opinion-only-1-percent-of-nigerians-have-health-insurance-here-s-how-to-change-that-92441

[iii] https://equityhealthj.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12939-020-01371-5#:~:text=Health%20insurance%20coverage%20in%20Uganda,total%20Ugandan%20population%20%5B29%5D.