Ms Nyokabi Kaguthi runs her dream shop a field dominated by male medical practitioners. She is the founder and director of Africa Telerad, a startup that provides medical diagnostic reports.
Her mission began in 2011 with Sh2 million savings. The plan was to help provide affordable medical care in Kenya and then expand into East Africa.
“The start of the business was slow. Africa Telerad was geared towards lowering the cost of radiology services, improving access and maintaining a high quality of healthcare,” said Ms Nyokabi, a specialist in diagnostic imaging and radiation medicine.
The benefits and potential impact of her business model in the long run was easy to sell, especially to hospitals and health professionals. As a result, the number of business deals has been on the rise.
Before opening Africa Telerad, Ms Nyokabi had worked as a radiologist at the Nairobi Hospital for three years. Prior to that she was employed as a medical officer at the Aga Khan University Hospital. She was posted at New Nyanza Provincial General Hospital immediately after completing her medical degree.
She had the passion to venture into imaging field, with particular focus to web technology that was fairly new when she opened shop. Her focus was to help cut drastically the time used doing X-ray and other imaging services so as to save lives.
So, in 2011, she quit her job to launch her business, which is currently based in Kilimani, Nairobi. Among the strategies she used to get an edge in the field were providing fast radiology services and lowering the charges.
However, it took close to a year to stabilise and get good returns, “it was a tough one year but there was no turning back so together with my team, we stayed focused.”
The venture has since grown and currently covers 32 hospitals and diagnostic clinics in East Africa.
The firm’s core business is to interpret X-rays, Ultrasound scans, CT scans, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRIs) in order to help doctors treat patients. The process is web based. It starts when a technician in a hospital performs an examination. Details of the examination are then sent using a secure network to a team of radiologists at Africa Telerad, who interpret and send a report back to the hospital.
To get quality medical reports, Ms Nyokabi partnered with a team of radiologists. The team, which analyses the images send by doctors within an hour, usually works round-the-clock.
In emergency cases, lives have been saved because of the short time taken to analyse images, she told Money.
“Our radiology services have had a direct impact to over a million people so far by improving access to quality and affordable services,” said the employer of three radiologists.
The centre produces about 60,000 medical reports per year. On average, one pays between Sh300 and Sh500 to get an imaging report. A patient pays the charge through cash or insurance as part of the hospital bill.
Many hospitals usually charge between Sh1,000 and Sh1,500 for similar reports.
Kenya has less than 150 radiologists with most of them based in big towns. This is one of the challenges that inspired Ms Nyokabi to open a one-stop stop, where hospitals could access imaging reports fast.
“The ratio of skilled medical professionals to patients currently stands at one doctor per 10,000 people, which is way below the World Health Organisation recommended ratio,” she said, adding, “the impact and benefits of technology in medicine has immediate positive impact on health.”