How To Use Technology To Drive Efficiency In Nigeria’s Healthcare Space – Victoria Okorie-Duru, Wakamedics Healthcare

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Let’s get to meet you. Tell us about yourself and your background


First, I would like to thank you for this opportunity. My name is Victoria Okorie-Duru. I am the founder and operational manager of Wakamedics Healthcare Limited, a mobile fertility and medical diagnostic laboratory. I am a seasoned professional with over nine (9) years of experience in the healthcare, Aviation, and NGO sectors.. My
background entails both clinical and business aspects, which I believe positions me well for the role of Managing Director and operational manager at Wakamedics Healthcare Limited. I am currently working on an innovative product in the healthcare sector which is geared toward increasing the chances of conception for women diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome. Also, the entire team is working on local research procedures to reduce the transmission of microbial diseases as well as curb adult and infant mortality rates. I spent a greater part of my early career in the aviation sector as a flight scientist and personal assistant (PA) to the founder of West Africa’s first Air ambulance service. To date, I serve as a community development strategist/ media advocate trained by
UNICEF Nigeria towards the abandonment of female genital mutilation. I founded Blue Vail Foundation, which is a non-profit organization that trains, mentors, and guides teenagers and youth to discover, develop and deploy their leadership potential for the good of society. Throughout my career, I have demonstrated a track record of delivering results through effective leadership, fostering collaboration, and implementing innovative solutions.
I am skilled in financial management, strategic planning, telemedicine, and telemarketing, customer support strategist, all of which are vital in navigating the complexities of the healthcare industry. I am excited about the opportunity to contribute my expertise to Wakamedics Healthcare Limited and lead the organization
towards continued success in delivering good healthcare services to the community.

What inspired you to start up this business and what are the main values driving it?
The inspiration behind starting Wakamedics Healthcare Limited came from a personal experience with my father’s health issues. He had kidney failure and had to go to the hospital regularly for dialysis. He expressed his fatigue and wished there was a more convenient way for healthcare services to conduct an in-house check of the kidney as a regular kidney function was required by his nephrologist. This conversation with him made me realize the need for assessable and patient-centric healthcare. That’s when the idea of Wakamedics was born. We wanted to provide high-quality medical services in the comfort of patients’ homes, making healthcare more convenient and personalized. The main value driving Wakamedics Healthcare Limited is patient-centered care, innovation, accurate and reliable results as well as collaboration. We prioritize the needs and comfort of our patients, leverage technology for better healthcare delivery, operate with professionalism and transparency, and faster teamwork among our healthcare professionals. Our goal is to revolutionize the healthcare experience, making it more accessible, convenient, and compassionate for everyone.

We wanted to provide high-quality medical services in the comfort of patients’ homes, making healthcare more convenient and personalized. The main value driving Wakamedics Healthcare Limited is patient-centered care, innovation, accurate and reliable results as well as collaboration. We prioritize the needs and comfort of our patients, leverage technology for better healthcare delivery, operate with professionalism and transparency, and faster teamwork among our healthcare professionals.


What kind of Challenges you’d had to overcome to pivot the business from a basic start-up?
Thank you for asking, when we first started our business, we faced a few challenges while trying to grow and expand. One of the main challenges was finding and hiring staff members within our desired time frame. As a startup, it can be tough to attract qualified professionals due to limited resources and competition. Another challenge was acquiring clients. Being a newbie in the market, it took time to establish a solid customer base, although we are still acquiring clients, we tackled this challenge by implementing a targeted marketing campaign, and collaborating with other healthcare providers. We did this by highlighting our patient-centered approach
and the convenience of our home health care services, we gradually gained the trust of clients and saw an increase in demand. Additionally, we are facing a specific challenge in meeting the need of our fertility clients. They expressed discomfort in having to visit separate facilities for follicular tracking during their ovulation. Unfortunately, our office lacks the required ultrasound machine with double probe technology. We are working on this as part of our expansion plan in the coming year whilst we look forward to having investors.


How would you rate Nigerian healthcare management? What are the gaps you think we need to cover to improve the whole space?
The WHO defines health as a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease/infirmary and the ability and the ability to live a socially and economically productive life. Despite Nigeria’s strategic position in Africa, the country is greatly underserved in the healthcare sphere. Health facilities (health centers, personnel, and medical equipment) are inadequate in this country, especially in rural areas. While various reforms have been put forward by the Nigerian government to address the wide-ranging issues in the healthcare system, they are yet to be implemented at the state and local government area levels. The Nigerian health care system is poorly developed and has suffered several backdrops, especially at the Local Government Levels. No adequate and functional surveillance systems are developed and hence no tracking system to monitor the outbreak of communicable diseases, bioterrorism, chemical poisoning, etc. I think the Nigerian healthcare system needs to improve in so many aspects such as the infrastructure and facilities, access to healthcare, healthcare workforce, health insurance and financing, health information system, and preventive healthcare. Addressing these gaps requires a multi-faceted approach involving government intervention, public-private partnerships, and collaboration with an international organization. By investing in infrastructure, expanding access, strengthening the healthcare workforce, improving health financing, and enhancing the health information system.

Since the outbreak of the Covid 19 diseases a couple of years ago, there has been a rise in testing and laboratory procedures. What is the standard process of administering a general body test and possible treatment? How affordable and convenient is it?

The outbreak of COVID-19 taught most Nigerians that not every fever is Malaria and Typhoid as is generally believed in the past. The standard process for any test starts with a detailed consultation. Good knowledge of the medical history of patients would give an idea of what tests are required and what tests would not be necessary at that time considering that the cost of healthcare is high in Nigeria. The results are best interpreted with clinical findings, this ensures that the right medications are administered and further preventive measures advised.


For a business owner passionate about the health and well-being of people, what are the attributes to have for people also aspiring to get into the healthcare business?

The attributes aspiring healthcare business owners should have include; empathy and compassion, strong communication skills, continuous learning and adaptability, ethical decision-making, strong problem-solving skills, leadership and teamwork, business acumen and resilience, and stress management. By cultivating these attributes, aspiring healthcare business owners can set a strong foundation for their ventures and make a positive impact on the health and well-being of others.

Are you involved in any community initiative that helps in mentoring and shaping the minds of young people in the nation’s building?
Yes, I am, like I said earlier, I founded Blue Vail Foundation, this foundation trains, mentors, and guides our teenagers and youths to discover themselves, develop, and deploy their leadership potential for the good of our society and our nation.

How often do you use tech solutions in your daily activities and how far has it impacted your business growth?
Thank you for asking, we use technology a lot, and as we know, technology is the new study to go right now. With the help of technology, wakamedics has been able to reach, communicate and attend to its clients via mobile phone and chat, especially clients that prefer virtual consultation and review of their results. We noticed a gap as most clients are unable to meet up with the physical consultation due to certain reasons we cannot disclose here. We can nicely brag that we are the only laboratory that provides detailed reviews of patients via mail or via our telemedicine platforms. The Wakamedics team has been able to send results to its clients via email and Whatsapp. On a daily basis, we have acquired clients through various social media platforms; Instagram, Facebook, and even Tiktok. Technology has really been a great impact on the growth of Wakamedics as a business.

 

What should Nigerians and the rest of the world expect from you in the nearest future?
In the nearest future, Nigerians and the rest of the world can expect several exciting developments from us. Firstly as earlier mentioned, we are revolutionizing the fertility diagnostics sector. The increase in ‘unexplained infertility’ will be curbed to the barest minimum starting from Lagos. We believe that right profiling will change the narrative and increase the chances of women trying to conceive to have their own babies. We will expand our healthcare services, introduce new fertility diagnostics options for men and women, and invest in advanced technologies. Our focus will be on enhancing accessibility through telemedicine and mobile health initiatives, reaching patients in remote areas. Remember, our vision is to be at the forefront of healthcare innovation, providing accessible, patient-centered care and making a positive impact on the health of Nigerians and beyond

 

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