Mphathi Jezile, founder and Managing director at the South African health-tech start-up BusyMed, believes that Afrika's pharmaceutical industry has to fast-track its digital transformation efforts if it is to take full advantage of an increasingly tech-savvy customer base and growing demand for both traditional and new drugs in communities across the continent. The startup he founded, BusyMed, is better known as a "Pharmacy in Your Pocket" and it partners with key industry leaders in medicine and healthcare to deliver quality affordable healthcare.

BusyMed launched its app in 2021 after an investment raise of just under R9 million through the R500 million LionPride Agility Fund.

“Our app is designed with the consumer in mind, giving them access to a reliable pharmacy network, and online consultations with a pharmacist via the in-app chat function, they can also purchase other products from the pharmacy as well as make payments directly on the app,” said Jezile.

Innovative solutions for South African communities

BusyMed has reported that it is set to host 250 established pharmacies based across all 9 provinces, including major cities, metropolitan areas, suburbs, and townships from all over South Africa on their platform. The health tech startup also states that it currently processes between 50-60 unique deliveries a day, with forecasts of this to rise to between 200-300 orders per day due to the onboarding of an additional 250 pharmacies.

Since its launch, BusyMed's app also is said to have had over 4,000 unique transactions placed, with each user experiencing the convenience and simplicity provided, and with winter underway, Jezile says the start-up expects to see more people adopting the app, as well as an increase in order volumes.

According to Jezile,  the South African pharmaceutical industry has remained product-centric in its approach, but with the constant and rapid changes in global pharmaceutical markets leading to challenges such as cost pressures and decreasing profit margin, getting the industry’s digital transformation drive out of the experimental phase will benefit the industry at large.

The future

One of the important ways that Jezile sees the pharmaceutical industry going forward, not only in South Africa but across Afrika, is through collaborations. Specifically collaborations between pharmaceutical companies and digital technology startups.

Dubbed Pharma 4.0, digital advancements in the pharmaceutical industry play a central role in revolutionizing healthcare in Afrika, and with industry research revealing that more than two-thirds of patients use the internet to help them manage their health, no matter how private, now is the time for collaboration towards digital transformation in the industry.

“No matter how you slice it, pharmacists serve an important role in communities since the products they provide are vital to people’s wellbeing. Africa’s pharmaceutical industry must adopt ways that will better serve these communities. Industry research shows that more than two-thirds of patients use the internet to find information to help them manage their health, consequently, becoming more comfortable when using digital networks and services, even in sensitive situations," concluded Jezile.

— By Tefo Mohapi

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