Another Kenyan tech start-up - Ambulance Hailing App

[SIZE=6]Ambulance hailing firm tests app in city[/SIZE]
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 27, 2017 19:25
BY JAMES KARIUKI
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A tech start-up has launched an online ambulance service that operates like a taxi covering Nairobi, a year after angel investors injected Sh10 million to fund its establishment. Flare founders Caitlin Dolkart and Maria Rabinovich say their web-based service ‘Rescue’ has enrolled 10,000 users mostly drawn from the corporate members during a month-long pilot that has created a pool of 40 ambulances across Nairobi.

They respond to alerts round the clock.

“We wanted a service that saves lives via prompt response and we have tested the service, bringing down emergency rescue service to eight minutes from the traditional two hours,” said Ms Dolkart.

“Swift response means less health complications to a patient who receives first aid from paramedics and evacuation to a hospital of choice,” she said. The 40 ambulances are spread across the city according to locations.

Ms Rabinovich said each participating ambulance team has a mobile gadget for communication, ensuring the teams were accessible around the clock. The service, accessed via any Internet-ready mobile phone, enables the emergency response team to locate a patient. According to the report received at the 24-hour nerve centre, a motorcycle paramedic is the first to arrive followed by an ambulance where the patient’s condition is assessed and a diagnosis made. The pilot was conducted within Parklands and Westlands in Nairobi, helping the service provider to introduce an annual membership fees of Sh1,500.

The service is being introduced a few years after the American taxi hailing app Uber arrived in Nairobi, a development that has brought forth competition from similar operations and hived off a huge market from the traditional taxi players. The founders of Flare say they raised an initial Sh5 million from family and private sources and a further Sh5 million from two US angel investors a year ago, which went into setting up an office, IT platform and hiring a staff of 10 that includes clinical officers, web developers and account officers. Ms Rabinovich, who built electronic medical records and inventory tracking system for a chain of clinics in Kenya four years ago during her international assignment said several private hospitals now relied on privately owned ambulances, easing the need to own an ambulance.

“We wanted hospitals to concentrate on medical services provision and let logistics companies operate ambulance services from a pool. This will save everyone time and money while creating a new revenue stream for hospitals and private companies that own ambulances,” she said. Ms Dolkart, who studied her MBA at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) said the service has created a phone contact database for all participating hospitals where an alert is sent to a patient’s hospital of choice if they are conscious ahead of their transportation to the facility.

Ms Dolkart and Ms Rabinovich said the national and county governments could subsidise the service to enable more people to enrol at lower than the rate of Sh1,500 per user, covering the principal member and their immediate family members.

“We are averting a situation where a specialised doctor is called from other locations when an ill patient arrives at a hospital; with our medical alert service, the hospital is fed with information on the patient’s condition when the patient is on the way. Time wasted means loss of life or a patient going into a coma while swift response means cheaper treatment for the patient and the community,” said Ms Rabinovich.

“Competition among the various ambulance companies will mainly hinge on offerings such as presence of paramedics, type of vehicle, service level and price,” she said, adding that a patient’s condition and location will determine the type of ambulance released to the scene. Some of the services available are the advanced life support ambulance, basic life support and the medical taxi service manned by a paramedic.

The article doesn’t name the Kenyan founders only Americans with funny names yet it is hailed as a Ken

A step in the right direction.

A step in the right direction but there’s a huge caveat…!
My grandma suffers from asthma which is often exacerbated when she gets an upper respiratory infection. Recently was such a time when the asthma got very bad. She was wheezing and couldn’t breathe except when sitting up, even then it was hard. Her skin color had become dark indicating that her oxygen level was being compromised. So my uncle decided to rush her to hospital late at night. At Thika Level 5 the wochi had to go wake up the on call doc who gave her one dose of inhalers and discharged her, yet she was still wheezing. Because her condition was still quite bad they decided to go to Aga khan Nairobi for a second opinion. Upon arriving there aga khan wanted 70k in cash, no checks before they could touch her. She has an nhif card but they didn’t want to see it. So they had to go to an atm, withdraw money and then drive back.
What does that teach us? You can have the best ambulance system but without all hospitals agreeing to admit patients, treat them first payment later, it’s all in vain.

what happened after paying the 70k?

She was finally admitted. Without that 70k they didn’t care if she collapsed and died in front of them. So I’m wondering how the proposed ambulance system will circumvent this problem. After admission, they carried out a battery of tests and scans for which they had to cough up an additional 110k. In total 180k for an asthma attack and 2 days admission in the general ward. Isn’t it cheaper to have your own oxygen tank, face mask and inhaler treatment at home? It’s not rocket science.
What was surprising is the way their attitude changed when they saw money. Before that it was rudeness and non caring gestures towards a sick, elderly patient. After they demonstrated ability to pay, lugha ikabadilika. They became attentive and very sweet. Goes to show money talks in kenya na mnyonge hana haki. In the US they treat you first payment later.

I’m glad she got treated, private hosi bila insurance inakuwanga tricky sana. Wondering why level 4 walikuwa na jokes hivyo na vile the funding + equipment have been improved.

if you do watch BBC click then you might have seen this episode

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bLWOpBB6WsA

Public hospitals are crap. When you get older and have medical problems no insurance company wants to insure you because you’re a liability. Premiums are sky high…Insurance companies either drop their costly elderly clients or bump the fees so much unajitoa tu.

Kijabe Hospital is the only one I know that does not demand cash upfront regardless of your condition. Shida ni distance from Nai. But if on Waiyaki Way, you can get there in an hour.

my 91yr old grandma is treated free of charge kwa hosi za gava so I think ziko tu poa. Plus the number of people I see using government facilities huku mashinani as compared to private/mission hospitals ni kibao. I think nhif pia has played a major role in easing access to better facilities cheaply.
Insurance zinakuanga tu ukora tupu and out of reach of most Kenyans kwanza kama hauko kwa white collar jobs.

You’re right. But Kijabe is run by Christian American doctors who get outside funding. They’re not in it for money, like aga khan, but to save lives.

Thika level 5 was free but the treatment was inadequate. Gava hospitals are good as long as you don’t have a life threatening issue. For instance, if you can’t breathe and need to be put on a ventilator in the ICU, chances are you won’t make it.

Not all of them. Senior management is Kenyan but they get a lot of support-skilled and otherwise-from North America and the UK.

Been admitted there thrice once for surgery and again with a baby and NHIF covered 100% for the surgery. 60%+ for the baby.

Sure they do an amazing job there because their mind set is about taking care of patients, not making profits. The doctors there who are from outside don’t collect a salary.

Great improvement in health will make this country to have great improvement in economy

Pole to your grandmum. However what does this service have to do with hospitals? Most of ambulances services here are owned by private companies not associated with hospitals. They are either Red cross or insurance companies owned. Most ambulances for public hospitals are based at the hospitals and get sent out by the in charge at those hospitals. For 1500 this services is only meant to get an private ambulance faster to you, make sure you get the necessary first aid and deliver you quickly to hospital of your choice. They are trying to fill that gap left unattended to by health service providers.

There’s a medical bill passed this year that compels hospitals to stabilize patients in case of an emergency without paying a deposit. Once stable, the patient has an option to seek in patient services, after paying a deposit, or be transferred to a hospital where prices are more affordable for the service.

Public hospitals are crap yet unashtushua na 70k charges upfront in a private hosy???

Aiiiiii, dont carry us that way

First aid ni sawa, although I’m sure it will be as basic as possible to keep costs down to provide kes 1,500 p.a worth of service. Without private insurance or cash on hand, private hospitals are often reluctant to admit patients. Unless the law changes as @wheelz pointed out.

:cool: