Fondation Pierre Fabre

Professionalizing and connecting rural pharmacies to help underserved people live in good health.

Main beneficiary country:
Bangladesh

About the sponsor

Jeeon

Jeeon's mission is to upgrade rural pharmacies, which serves as the first-point-of-care for 40-80% of health visits in most developing countries, in order to improve access to quality care for underserved rural populations. Over last 4 years, Jeeon has built and tested a telemedicine platform that has served ~10K patients with complicated conditions. Based on learnings, Jeeon is now also extending the platform to include a case-based learning platform for Village Medics, rapid diagnostics and NCD screening tools, and a referral network of high quality, discounted services. Jeeon currently works with ~50 pharmacies and will roll out to over 1000 in next 2 years.

Sector: Health: Healthcare professionals and structures

Country of origin: Bangladesh

The organisation has:

22
Full-Time Equivalents
26
Employees
0
Volunteer
0
Service provider

Initiative overview

Healthcare themes targeted

  • Mother and child health
  • Primary healthcare
  • Nutrition
  • Infectious diseases
  • Sexual and reproductive health
  • Access to quality medicines/pharmacies
  • Vaccination
  • Chronic diseases
  • Cardiovascular illnesses
  • Oral health
  • Dermatology
  • Ophthalmology

Stage of development:

  • Pilot project/testing/trials

Area where initiative is utilised

  • Provincial/regional (in one region of a single country)

Initiative start date

  • 06/29/2017

Financing

Financing method

  • Private (private investors, crowdfunding, philanthropy, etc.)
  • Government agency (i.e AFD, USAID, etc.)

Economic model(s)

  • Income generated by beneficiaries
  • Revenue generated by the beneficiaries/healthcare facilities
  • Advertising
  • Sales of data analysis
  • Subscription fees, Premium content, Medicine white labeling and supply chain digitization

About the initiative

In the absence of doctors and formal healthcare facilities, Village Medics - untrained rural pharmacists selling medicines - dominate the landscape, with approximately one VM per 700 people, compared to 1:10,000 doctors. These informal providers are a part of the community that they serve, garnering trust among their patients. Patients seek care from these informal providers for a variety of reasons from simple cases of buying over-the-counter drugs to seeking consultation for complicated and serious medical conditions. In rural areas, 67% of the population seek care from VMs as their first point of care - about 2.5 million people a day - making them an indispensable cog in the wheel of rural primary healthcare. Despite this, VMs lack the medical knowledge, skill set and recognition from the government that their formally trained counterparts possess. VMs work freely in an informal healthcare system with very little oversight, allowing them to treat complicated and serious cases despite their limited knowledge. As a result, patients often get misdiagnosed and mistreated, resulting in long term health problems and antibiotic resistance, etc. Private pharmaceutical companies and rural medical centers exploit this and use VMs for their personal advantage, putting pressure on them to provide unnecessary drugs and treatments. Over the last 40 years since Bangladesh’s independence, over 50 billion dollars has been spent on rural healthcare largely aimed at replacing and displacing VMs, using physical facilities, moving doctors to villages, and building community health worker networks, with very little success. However, perhaps less than 50 million dollars has been spent on improving the skill and quality of care VMs provide. Jeeon discovered this almost by accident, while consulting for health NGOs, donors and the government in Bangladesh developing technology solutions. By that time, it worked in the space for over 5 years and worked with all of the big players in rural healthcare, but heard very little mention of VDs in the formal discourse. This was disjointed from the  field experiences, where Jeeon always saw VMs to be the first line of treatment. This prompted us to dig deeper and realize that a big untapped problem and opportunity existed in that gray area between legal regulations and people’s preferences.

This solution contributes to improve the skills and quality of services provided by a VM. By leveraging a channel that 70% of rural people trust, Jeeon can funnel patients to other health programs, such as private/govt. health facilities and hospitals, NGO health camps and specialized services, helping pharma companies and governments by giving information on drug use/abuse, etc.

Jeeon is rolling out a two-pronged approach that will both upskill VMs and provide targeted health information/services to patients. Through case-solving games, VMs can learn proper treatment and prescription protocols for simple conditions. For more complicated cases, VMs are provided access to a robust, quality-vetted network of nearby hospitals and diagnostic centers to refer patients, and other specialized services (e.g. surgeries) through targeted health camps. Closed feedback loops on the platform in the form of ratings are an integral aspect of the platform, holding the VM and referral centers accountable to quality standards and treatment protocols, thereby improving the quality of healthcare across the continuum. As the intervention scales, Jeeon collecst an extensive amount of patient data, used to provide health information through SMS/IVR, set up targeted health camps based on the healthcare needs of a particular community and ensure supply and prescription of quality drugs in pharmacies.

Fields of application:

Health professional training - Telemedicine (remote diagnosis and consultations) - Information, education and communication for behaviour change (IEC) - Patient monitoring and medical data

Target audience

  • Healthcare professionals and structures (hospitals, healthcare centres/clinics, health networks)
  • Entire population
  • Sick people
  • Young children (0-5 years)

Initiative objectives

  • Decreased mortality
  • Decreased morbidity
  • Reduced suffering
  • Improved treatment
  • Reduced cost of treatment

Key figures

9000 Number of beneficiaries since launch

670 Number of users per Month

Materials used

  • Smartphone

Technologies used

  • Mobile telecommunications (without data connection)
  • Internet
  • Geolocation
  • Mobile app (Android, iOS, Windows Phone, HTML5, etc.)
  • VOIP / SMS/ IVR

Offline use

Yes

Open Source

No

Open Data

Yes

Independent evaluation

No

Partners

Vision Spring

Health: Healthcare professionals and structures

ICDDRB

Academic entities: Universities, research laboratories, etc.

Smile Train

Health: Healthcare professionals and structures

Platform (Doctor's community)

Organizational: Communities, public authorities, NGOs, associations, foundations, etc.

Partners

Collaborators

startupBrics