By Rahma Jimoh
A simple google search of Health Tracka leads straight to a cutting-edge digital platform that promises users access to over 500 medical tests and results within 48 hours. In a country like Nigeria where about 70% of the population rely on public health facilities and experience bottlenecks, Health Tracka could be a timely intervention.
For context, only three percent of Nigeria’s GDP is invested in the health sector, and in fact, the country’s healthcare budget has averaged below six percent of its total budget for over two decades. This reality has over time weakened the public health sector, which operates with minimal resources including shortages of staff, facilities, and critical drugs while dealing with an influx of patients seeking medical attention at crucial stages. With limited access to healthcare services, patients can turn to Health Tracka, get a diagnosis, and seek relevant medical services but first, how does it work?
How Health Tracka works
Healthtracka’s Services can be accessed through its web and mobile applications. A user is required to sign up on the platform. After signing up on the platform, the user can then create an account by providing a username, email address, phone number, date of birth, gender, home address, and password.
After signing up on the platform, the user can either click “take the quiz” or choose what test to take from the table showing different health tests. The quiz is a set of questions that can help a user determine what health condition they have or what test they need to take. It is a simplified quick question on health and well-being and is accessible to anyone. Questions on weight, height, minor symptoms, etc are asked. After selecting what health test a user wants to check, there are other options on the platform to order the tests, submit samples, get lab-certified results, or engage a doctor. The lab test results are delivered to users’ doorstep within 48 hours.
Ebube Obianaso, a frequent user of the Health Tracka website says, “I don’t use the app, I use the website and I’ve not had any challenges using it. My experience is usually smooth. I select what service I want, pay for it and the result is brought to my house.”
Currently, Health Tracka claims to provide medical test services to patients in South West Nigeria as well as other parts of Nigeria like Abuja, Benin, Kaduna, and PortHarcourt.
Health Tracka is the first of its kind in the country and it has reached thousands of Nigerians since it first launched in May 2021. “The website gets at least a thousand visits in a quarter,” says Mrs. Ifeoluwa Dare-Johnson, the founder and CEO of Health Tracka.
Health Tracka relies on collaboration
“Some doctors recommend it to their patients to get their tests done. Although we are yet to cover all kinds of health tests, we are always looking for more innovative ways to make sure that all kinds of health tests are accessible to everyone everywhere, the website also keeps a record of users’ health data for returning customers,” Dare-Johnson explained.
Health Tracka, unlike public hospitals, does not have a laboratory. Instead, it has partnered with registered and certified labs in Lagos, Abuja, and Ibadan, including SynLab, Vcare Lab, EHAs Clinics, and Arrive Alive, to provide tests in users’ homes or preferred locations. And since its inception, its network of phlebotomists has grown from 20 to 100. According to Dare-Johnson, the company has delivered nearly 7,000 home tests to customers.
“There are several positive cases that have been prevented because Health Tracka was able to conduct a test early, beyond that we deliver over a thousand tests per quarter, and 15,000 tests online since we launched,” Dare-Johnson said.
The health tech company focuses on preventive care by collaborating with lab centers to diagnose. They send phlebotomists to customers’ homes to collect blood samples. Dare-Johnson stated that the team’s diagnostic experience helps it create quality checklists to vet these lab centers, one of which is meeting the standard ISO laboratory accreditation.
“We have only certified phlebotomists, these are medically trained sample collectors. They ensure that the blood sample has a particular pressure maintained throughout the process of logistics. Apart from this, we also employ what we call the road optimization method to ensure that the samples do not take more than a particular kilometer of the journey to get to the lab partner for processing,” Mrs. Dare-Johnson said.
Health Tracka also collaborates with doctors to review results and specialists to provide additional consultation. However, while a standard test covers phlebotomist visits and doctors reviewing results, customers have to pay an additional fee if Health Tracka connects them with specialists for the diagnosis.
While Health Tracka is improving access to medical diagnosis, it is not accessible to all Nigerians. Health Tracka is online based and only those with access to the internet can use it. In a developing country like Nigeria, where half of the country’s population, 40.72 percent uses the Internet. Those who do not have access to the internet have been disproportionately left out of the innovation. According to Statista, as of February 2019, only around 39.92 percent of Nigerians use smartphones.
Financial hindrance is also another challenge to many as users have to pay for the services and in some cases, pay additional delivery fees for home sample collection if their tests require home testing and delivery. Test fees range from N20,000 to N100,000 on the platform, making it impossible for low-income earners to afford the service.
On another level, paying for the service online is a deterrent for some. For example, Mrs. Adewale, an elderly woman from Ago Iwoye in Ogun State said she is skeptical about performing an online transaction on a platform that isn’t a bank application. “What if I pay and it doesn’t reflect, who do I talk to refund my money? I am always scared of anything online payment,” she said.
However, the website has a WhatsApp button that serves as a customer service tool to answer questions and resolve complaints that customers might have.
For a platform that targets improving access to medical services, Health Tracka is not designed to accommodate persons with disabilities like visually impaired people. The website does not have features to accommodate their needs and thus falls short of providing inclusiveness.
This story was produced in partnership with Nigeria Health Watch through the Solutions Journalism Network, a nonprofit organisation dedicated to rigorous and compelling reporting about responses to social problems.