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mPharma Business Model: Everything You Need To Know

By Rajat Kumar 16th July 2021

mPharma helps hospitals, pharmacies and patients gain access to medications by creating  innovative financing and inventory management solutions. By aggregating and forecasting demand throughout their network of suppliers, they are able to provide cheaper pricing to the public.

The World Health Organization’s World Medications Survey asks specialists in each nation to assess the proportion of people who have access to a minimum of 20 basic medicines within an hour’s walk of their house. According to the results, although fewer than half of the world’s population had regular access to critical medications in 1975, that percentage had dropped to around one-third in 1999 whereas the absolute no. of people remained unchanged. Africa in particular is fighting through this issue for a long time and has faced deaths that could have been easily reversed. Absence of a medicine information/tracking system being the major cause of this mismanagement has led to question the whole health industry of Africa.

mPharma came to the rescue of the nation and ailing patients building a real time system to connect patients, clinicians to their nearest pharmacists. 

2013 marked the beginning of mPharma where it collaborated with the Zambian Health Ministry to implement a pilot of their solution at Levy Mwanawasa General Hospital in Lusaka. This pilot test revealed a lot of loopholes. The staff at the dispensary was trained and the result could be seen instantly through the dispense rate of medicines.

mPharma till then has seen a keen upward trend.

In this Article-

How is mPharma Disrupting The Healthcare Sector?

mPharma uses a data and cost management platform to link African customers with high-quality medication that is both accessible and cheap. In Africa, adulterated and low-quality medications continue to be a serious problem. Original prescription medications from developing markets are made easily available and inexpensive to underprivileged areas by the firm. Mpharma has so far listed 208 pharmacies and serves 20k patients monthly.

The company has built an infrastructure and drug monitoring system that has brought about a revolution in the country. Now doctors know in real-time the exact location and availability of any medication. Adding to it, patients also have a more reliable access to medicines.

Business Model

Technology and Operations Management – Prescriptions made easy….

Doctors use mClinic to prescribe medicine and transmit a prescription number to the drugstore and the patient’s mobile phone. Once a patient is registered in the system, their information and prescription history are easily accessible to their doctor. Furthermore, clinicians may view stock information for any of the partner pharmacies to prevent sending patients to pharmacies where medications are unavailable.

mPharmacy primarily saves pharmacists time and paperwork by enabling them to connect with patients and physicians in real time, accept and distribute prescriptions, and automate refills via a simple mobile platform. A digital prescription code supplied by a doctor is used by pharmacies to obtain a patient’s diagnosis and prescribed medicine.

Prescriptions are maintained and served automatically and due to the convenience of the messaging system, pharmacies can easily track the patients’ progress, continuity, and uniformity via a simple text, all while communicating seamlessly with the prescriber. mPharma also offers pharmacies stock control tools which make inventory management more efficient.

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mPharma supplies drugs to all pharmacies on consignment. As a result, revenues are determined by actual drug sales to patients rather than what they supply to hospitals on a regular basis. Because it differs from the typical “pay-for-supplies” approach offered by distributors, and this hence provides a disruptive business model for hospitals and pharmacies.

They have raised a total of $25.1M in funding over eight rounds. Their latest funding was raised on Apr 2, 2019, from a Grant round.

How mPharma Embraces Its Strategies?

A company never succeeds without a vision. These 5 key strategies reinforced mPharma’s vision and approach to medicine accessibility, affordability and availability in Africa.

1.     Starting with the Patient

Constructing an electronic prescription network that allowed doctors to know the exact location and availability of any drug of interest in real-time doctors were able to do more with electronic prescriptions than simply advise their patients where to find their medicine. It aided them in following the patient journey from prescription through administration and consumption. When their patients picked up their medicine, doctors got confirmation from mPharma. On top of the e-prescription system, they created a communication layer that allowed any pharmacy on the network to speak with any doctor who submitted a prescription to their pharmacy without having to send the patient back to the hospital if the pharmacist had any concerns.

2.     Turn Insight into Action

By digitizing the prescription paper, the company was able to create large anonymous datasets that provided real-time insights about the patient’s journey from prescription to consumption. For example, determination in real time which medicines are administered entirely, partially, or not at all. It is now possible to compare patient demand to supply for certain medicines. This enables them to discover areas where demand exceeds supply or vice versa. Company keeps a note of replacements as well as the reasons for them. They are leveraging indication data to create real-time illness prevalence profiles for the cities, neighbourhoods, and demographic groupings that use mPharma. As the network grows, they hope to be able to develop proactive, rather than reactive, healthcare delivery systems. 

Partial dispensations are a strong insight that has led to the development of a new product with a number of mobile telecom providers. Because the vast majority of patients pay for their medications out of pocket, cost is a major issue in deciding the sort of drugs a patient receives. Doctors consider cost when determining what drugs to prescribe and pharmacists select it quite often as a reason for substitutions.

A patient who receives a 30 day prescription but cannot afford to pay upfront for it will opt to pay for 10 days and come back on the 10th day with enough money to pay for another 10 days. These micropayments for partial dispensation inspired us to create mPharma Mutti, a new access offering. Through flexible payment arrangements, mPharma Mutti enables patients to acquire high-quality medicines at reduced rates. Patients on chronic medicines provide predictable recurring revenue, allowing mPharma to develop a patient micropayment plan.

The aim is to remove cost as a barrier.

3.     Take it Over the Last Mile

This is especially important when it comes to the price and accessibility of medicine. Historically, pharmaceutical corporations have conflated market access tactics with patient access objectives. When health insurers and HMOs are included in, the situation becomes more intriguing. In many cases, providers have over-billed payors, which has led to several payors limiting the sorts of services available.

To bring enormous cost savings to payors and out-of-pocket patients, mPharma created a Pharmacy Benefits CRM software that allows to aggregate the purchasing power of thousands of enrollees through their insurance plans and out-of-pocket expenditure, allowing insurance companies and individuals to obtain lower prices for high-quality prescription drugs with already providing 30–40% saving to health insurers.

4.     Tap into Mobile as a Connector

It is now a cliché to argue that Africa is the world’s first post-PC continent. I could go on and on about Africa’s mobile revolution, but the point is that the company is more linked as a continent now than they have ever been. The ability to communicate directly with patients via mobile phones enables mPharma to provide high-value services such as prescription routing, ADR reporting, real-world evidence solutions, and micro-payments. This also allows pharmaceutical firms to use their solutions to create successful patient access campaigns and gain real-time market information.

5.     Create Shared Value

This is a strategy that mPharma holds dear. They think that doing well commercially while doing good socially is a win-win situation. They began in Zambia with a collaboration with the Zambian government to digitize the country’s prescription system at no cost to the Health Ministry. Their philosophy is to create common values, enabling patients to acquire their medications at nearly wholesale costs rather than short-term profits. While lower margins make them appear to be a bad company in the immediate term, by continuing to aggregate consumption and growing patient numbers, they are offering significant financial benefit to our shareholders.

Conclusion

With a clear vision of doing good for people, if mPharma can bring such a positive impact in the healthcare sector why not you.

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