Nigerian-based diagnostic startup MDaaS Global has announced the launch of its product SentinelX, after closing a seed extension round of $2.3 million to scale across Nigeria. The start-up aims at improving access to diagnostics and preventive care in the West African country.
The platform acts as a personalized care program where patients pay a one-time fee of N35k (~$70) and access a doctor all year round. SentinelX is currently in private beta. However, the plan is to go live in September 2021. One would argue that $70 for a year might be cheap for this kind of service, Oni concurs but says it’s all about the long game for MDaaS.
“What we’re trying to solve is non-consumption. Most people in Nigeria don’t go for annual screening, which is something meant to be routinely done. Instead, what we tend to have in Nigeria is that people wait till they get sick before going for checkups. By that time, it costs so much money to solve the problem,” Oni echoes on the lackadaisical effort some Nigerians place on their health.MDaaS co-founder and CEO, Oluwasoga Oni
At the moment, users can run through a series of tests ranging from 60 or 70 biomarkers to assess individual risk for a wide range of diseases, including cancers, diabetes, kidney disease, and heart diseases. Clinical and family history and demographic data are also taken into consideration as part of the comprehensive analysis. Meanwhile, MDaaS creates a care plan unique to customers should they have health concerns after screening.
Through SentinelX, MDaaS is trying to get as many people as possible to cheaply pre-screen themselves for one year then pay for full value the next year after seeing the benefits of regular checkups. The service is one of many MDaaS can deploy on top of its diagnostic infrastructure built over the years. But getting to this point meant the startup had to scale through the capital-intensive hurdle associated with infrastructural plays. Moreover, defining what price to charge patients has even become more challenging due to the economic recession that has frequently plagued Nigeria.
“We have had to get very creative in the way we build things because we target low to middle-income patients. As a result, we’ve needed to customize our diagnostic infrastructure, especially as it relates to costs for the people we serve,” Oni added.
MDaaS, an abbreviation for medical devices-as-a-service, started back in 2016. It operates a network of tech-enabled diagnostic centers across Nigeria. Two years ago, it raised a million-dollar seed round. And in addition to the other investments secured over the last five years, the healthtech startup has raised a total of $3.7 million.
Per application of funds, MDaaS wants to scale its physical footprint across Nigeria by adding six more diagnostic centers this year. According to Oni, the healthtech startup wants to become one of Nigeria’s three largest diagnostic centers. The CEO also said MDaaS would consider a pan-African expansion to similar countries like Nigeria, although he gave no timeline. But by 2025, the company aims to operate 100 centers across the continent and serve a million patients per year.