Getting affordable healthcare solutions to underserved markets
Healthcare in remote communities
A graduate of the London School of Economics (LSE), Edward Booty left a consulting job to join the National Healthcare Service (NHS) in the UK to support low-cost primary care digital service innovation. Here, he realized the power of digital technology in providing healthcare to communities falling through the cracks of traditional healthcare systems. He also felt it provided an opportunity to create a sustainable new healthcare model that serves both the public and private sector, and achieves the global Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
With an eye on bridging the gap for underserved communities, Edward left the UK and moved to Singapore to launch reach52, a social enterprise focused on leveraging digital technology to deliver affordable primary healthcare, medicines, diagnostics and insurance to disadvantaged areas of the Philippines, Cambodia, and other countries.
Seeing the forest through the trees
As a first-time entrepreneur, Edward was involved in every aspect of the business. Eventually, he found himself tethered to the daily activities requiring his attention. It became clear that the only way the business could move forward was to build a system of processes for daily operations and, for this, Edward wanted external guidance.
Making the most of mentorship
Edward and members of the reach52 team joined Accelerator Singapore, where they received not only the business mentorship they were seeking, but also product training, and opportunities to meet industry insiders.
With Messenger being a key platform to enable maximum reach and scale in underserved communities, the reach52 team was keen to access product experts to leverage social media to stimulate healthcare access. Through the program, they tapped into technical expertise for all Facebook products, and emerged with new features, including an Engagement and Outreach module, to deliver targeted public health programs driven by user data from reach52.
On the organizational side, Edward needed to set up structured and sustainable processes to keep up with fast-paced growth. Through a product management road-mapping course, Edward and his team navigated an overwhelming array of tasks and responsibilities to prioritize the steps needed to reach core objectives. “While being part of the Accelerator program on a whole was valuable, I could not have foreseen that one three-hour course would fundamentally alter how I run the company,” he said.
Since leaving Accelerator Singapore, the reach52 team used their Messenger-powered mobile application and platform to integrate with their existing primary healthcare solution for rural communities. Synthesizing the use of offline-first apps and their virtual platform, they are able to deliver screening, telehealth, health worker training, medicines, diagnostics and insurance into communities where traditional services don’t reach.
As COVID-19 spread across countries, reach52 used its learnings from the Accelerator program to react swiftly to unforeseen community needs by launching an Information and Symptom Checker to curb misinformation about the virus.
Getting the word out
The circumstances brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic added another layer of complexity for Edward, who realized he needed to work faster than ever to bring timely and accurate information to underserved communities. In just over one week of launching the COVID-19 Information and Symptom Checker, 6500 residents in rural communities across the Philippines and Cambodia had used the solution.
Now available in more than 15 languages, the service supported by Messenger has since launched in India with plans to expand to countries across Africa. Rich Bryson, Chief Strategy and Marketing Officer, said “Messenger gives us the scale we need to reach more communities lacking access to healthcare, providing essential services during the COVID-19 global crisis and amplifying our primary healthcare services on the ground faster.”
In 2020, reach52 was contracted to deliver digital health services to 400 communities and earned the following results:
- Achieved 70% penetration in local communities with existing on-the-ground services
- Established partnerships with over 20 leading global, regional and local pharmaceutical companies, insurance providers, and essential businesses (telcos, distributors and tech companies)
- 500+ affordable medicines and insurance products available to rural communities through the reach52 Marketplace
- Received funding from a leading global pharmaceutical company to scale-up their COVID-19 solutions, including use of Messenger platform to reach over 1 million people in the next 6 months, as well as train 1,500 frontline health workers across 4 countries.