UNT Engineering alumnus Gersom Adu wants to make healthcare better for all of Africa. The entrepreneur has created his own company and a set of products geared at providing African citizens greater access to healthcare.
After graduating in May 2019 with a B.S. in Computer Engineering and a minor in mathematics, Adu set out to find a way to use the skills he gained in class to help in the real-world.
“I’m from Africa, and so I thought a lot about Africa, and about how 57 percent of Africans have poor or no access to quality care,” he said. “A contributory factor stems from an underfunded healthcare sector which has led to the lack of medical infrastructure, a 15 percent year-on-year increase in clinical brain drain, thereby decreasing timely access to medical expertise, transportation, distance from one hospital to the other, inaccurate diagnoses, and the rise of counterfeit medication in circulation.”
Coupling his experience with 13 months of research, Adu concluded that the root cause of the healthcare problem in Africa – while exacerbated by transportation and distance – was the lack of electronic health records between patients and healthcare providers as well as the doctor to patient ratio.
“We may be putting ourselves at unintended risk as a population through the way we live, our eating habits, and even self-medication practices without immediately seeking proper medical attention,” said Adu. “I wanted to create a new healthcare experience – one that combines modern medicine and smart technology with a functional and conventional whole-body approach that anyone, anywhere in Africa can benefit from. Most patients wait to the last minute when their issue has really escalated before they seek proper medical attention. I want patients to know that it is okay to have a primary care physician and it is okay to go see the doctor. So, I started Vien Health, because I saw how broken the healthcare system is today.”
The Vien Health platform aims to connect patients to world-class medical specialists and health coaches to ensure the best and most holistic care possible. They also partner with hospitals and ambulatory services for urgent health needs.
Patients log into the platform and immediately have ongoing virtual consultations with medical professionals and health coaches. The product also houses all of the patient’s electronic health records (EHR) in one centralized and convenient place.
“Our platform is a first-class virtual practice of board-certified medical experts with a passion for taking care of patients and a commitment to medical distinction. It’s designed to bridge the widening gap of transportation, proximity of hospital constraints and to provide services across numerous clinical specialties to facilitate the ability to meet general, acute, chronic and complex health needs,” he said.
Of course, it’s a solution that came with its own challenges. Where it improved the transportation and distance issues, it also raised the issue of accessibility to internet and electricity.
“There's a limited resource of internet, and there's a limited resource on electricity,” said Adu. “The beauty about the platform that we're building, is that it will allow for hosted servers, which is going to allow the platform to work in situations where there is no internet access.”
Vien Health plans to launch early this year with a pilot program in Ghana.
“We're starting with Telehealth – with unlimited access to top doctors anywhere, anytime, on any device, and then we're slowly going to scale out from one country to the other to provide a comprehensive EHR solution,” he said.
The company is also building several new product lines in addition to their EHR solution, such as “Her,” a product geared toward helping women in Africa take further control of their reproductive health.
“I'm so grateful that I chose this career path, because every little detail, every direction, every choice, every decision that I made has really brought me to this point in my life,” said Adu. “I'm really grateful for being a Mean Green.”