Esprit Health


Esprit Health Uses Telecom Expertise to Bring Accessible, Affordable Digital Health to Africa and Beyond

Robert Condon spent his career traveling the world to establish some of the first mobile phone networks. Now he's leveraging that know-how to create a telecare infrastructure that can provide access to affordable primary healthcare to underserved global emerging markets.
The Challenge
As we've often said at StartUp Health, you can develop all the health tech in the world, but if people can't access it, we're not going to move the needle on health. Today, millions of people globally still lack access to high-quality primary healthcare for financial and geographic reasons. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 40% of its 194 member states have fewer than 10 medical doctors per 10,000 people; some report only having three physicians. These medical professionals show up in rural areas so infrequently as to make it virtually impossible for many to plan for these visits, and in times of emergency, gaining access to care means traveling long distances only to then pay exorbitant costs. This makes in-person care not only an unaffordable luxury but a rarity, leaving wellness left to chance and ailments unchecked in vast pockets of the world's population. Through smartphones and digital mobile networks, we have the technology needed to bring high-quality, virtual healthcare services to remote communities. However, there are cultural barriers as well. In-person visits are the norm - albeit infrequent and often expensive - and getting entire populations to embrace receiving healthcare through a digital device can be a challenge. How can a startup build the network infrastructures necessary for low-cost, high-quality virtual healthcare while simultaneously changing the culture of healthcare, educating the community, and helping populations acclimate to the tools and workflows of virtual care? That's just the question Robert Condon set out to address with Esprit Health.
Original Story
Robert Condon is a pioneer of the international telecom industry. He spent decades traversing the globe establishing cellular networks and telecom platforms for some of the world's largest telecommunications companies. Much of that time was spent building the first mobile networks in remote places - like China, which taught him two lasting lessons. The first was the power of bringing digital mobile access to the world. The second was the reality of the inequities that persist in remote and low-income regions. His experience also taught him that while there could be initial cultural barriers to accepting mobile networks in a region unfamiliar with the technology, once accepted, these communities often experienced a leapfrog effect. Because they often lacked other supportive infrastructure, these under-resourced communities jumped at the opportunity to conduct every possible transaction via their new mobile device. Not only could they now communicate with loved ones all over the world, but with the digital wallet, they could send money to family members, and access the Internet for e-Commerce, news, and entertainment. Quite simply, the smartphone has become the de facto means of communication for most people in emerging markets. As this concept of a "digital wallet" matured, Condon spotted an exciting opportunity for it to have a deeper impact on the world. What if he could use this new technology and his decades of experience in implementing mobile networks to leverage mobile infrastructure and deliver accessible, affordable, digital health in emerging markets via an m-health platform and "Health Wallet"? The final tipping point was COVID-19. When it swept the globe, the need for accessible, affordable virtual healthcare moved from a benefit to a necessity. The spark for Esprit Health was lit. He formed a team and began building his platform, focusing first on East Africa.
Under the Hood
Esprit Health's new platform connects customers to medical, pharmaceutical, and insurance services. They have developed what they call an m-Health or Mobile Health platform to deploy in partnership with Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) taking advantage of their distribution channels. By creating the Digital Health Wallet, Esprit utilizes key elements of the traditional digital financial wallet as well as providing a repository for consumers to upload various health documents and manage medical payments. Consumers then make and conduct telemedicine appointments for their physical and mental health needs through their smartphones. Localization and cultural relevance are key to the business proposition and is a focal point to ensure relevant, appropriate care for Esprit's customer base. Just as with other telemedicine services, as soon as a patient downloads the app and accesses it, they are immediately connected to a host of products and services. Esprit Health plans to scale up by utilizing existing distribution channels. They'll also pull the various healthcare service providers in each country onto the network, then they'll ramp up their digital marketing to attract customers and funnel them into those medical service providers, thus creating an effective Consumer healthcare marketplace. How they accomplish this role of virtual health intermediary comes down to experience. Robert and his team have faced similar challenges setting up mobile and telecommunication networks and will apply the same framework to digital health. That expertise allows the Esprit team to use repeatable and scalable methods in each new country as they expand. While the goal is to provide low-cost medical care and microinsurance support to underserved communities, the first target consumers for Esprit will be middle and pre-middle income earners. This will allow for early revenue and the opportunity to scale up quickly to then focus on low-income at-risk populations. Condon already has his eyes set on rolling out his platform throughout emerging markets in Africa and Southeast Asia.
Why we're proud to Invest In Esprit who have just launched their new funding round.
Telehealth isn't anything new, yet with all of our tech advances virtual care remains a distant reality in many low-income and rural regions. We're proud to back Robert Condon and his team at Esprit because they're laser focused on providing access to care, with an eye towards bringing the best of virtual care to the people who have been left out in the past. We're also excited to support Esprit because they're porting knowledge and experience from the telecommunications industry over to health. A common complaint about healthcare is that it lags a decade behind other industries and hasn't benefited from the same technological advances and consumer adoption that we've seen elsewhere. One way to fix that problem is to bring top minds from outside of health into the fold and rethink the system from the ground up. With his decades of experience building cellular networks around the world and navigating the infrastructure and cultural challenges of digital adoption, Condon is the right person for this job. Finally, we're proud to link arms with Condon and his team because they have a health moonshot mindset. After years of helping people communicate over mobile networks, Condon has made it his mission to do something ever greater: use digital mobile technology to save lives. He's not just building a business; he's building a legacy. It's the culmination of his life's work, and it's the most important thing he's ever done. That's the kind of passion and dedication necessary to improve the health and wellbeing of everyone on the planet.
Robert Condon

Robert Condon

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