Healthpoint launches scalable rural health social enterprise

By Collin Lessing, JVA Consulting

On November 9, Healthpoint Services Global, Inc. (Healthpoint) announced an innovative partnership with The Procter & Gamble Company, (Proctor & Gamble) aimed at advancing a scalable, self-sustaining social enterprise model for delivery of water, healthcare and other benefits to underserved rural communities in developing countries. The effort targets the millions of people who currently lack reliable access to safe drinking water and legitimate healthcare services. The “healthpoint” model—created and piloted by Healthpoint—combines four essential services in each rural clinic:

·       Safe drinking water, produced onsite daily

·       Access to qualified doctors via telemedicine, supported by two-way video and electronic medical records

·       Advanced onsite diagnostic capability (over 80 tests), enabling evidence-based healthcare

·       High-quality medicines via an onsite licensed pharmacy

Healthpoint facilities are based in rural communities that have little to no access to health care and employ village health workers who go door-to-door, educating community members and providing mobile technology that allows doctors to remotely examine patients.

“Doctors can order tests and make prescriptions. We’ve found very few limitations,” said Healthpoint co-founder, Dr. Al Hammond, regarding the effectiveness of the remote visits with doctors. “We’ve diagnosed epilepsy, tumors and brain cancer.”

Some might wonder how offering safe drinking water plays into the clinic’s model.

“The combination of safe water and medical treatment are powerfully synergistic. People come to our facilities to get water everyday and it brings us traffic,” explained Dr. Hammond.

This multiproduct system also offers social cover for those seeking daily treatment for ailments that may conflict with cultural attitudes or taboos toward certain diseases or conditions. Healthpoint and Proctor & Gamble have paid close attention to social norms in the design of their facilities—offering multiple water taps at each site so that communities may choose taps based on their own caste system expectations, and providing separate waiting areas for men and women so that community members can visit the facilities without the fear of violating cultural rules regarding public interaction between people of different genders.

Along with a savy, well-planned approach to cultural sensitivity, the Proctor & Gamble and Healthpoint partnership is an effective model of scalable social enterprise. One of the rural health facilities has already reached sustainability and the other seven are close behind. According to Dr. Hammond, “Many social enterprises don’t get to scale because they didn’t plan for it. We planned for scale from the beginning.”

Healthpoint’s plan included securing partnerships with Proctor & Gamble, Ashoka and foundations that could provide low-cost sources of capital.

“Most social enterprises need outside help or guidance in creating these relationships,“ added Dr. Hammond. “There are consultants who specialize in social enterprise and can introduce them to the right kind of capital and partners.”

To learn more about Healthpoint is changing rural health care, click here.

JVA Consulting serves as the Colorado chapter of the National Center for Social Entrepreneurs. To find out how JVA can help you turn your idea for social enterprise into reality, visit www.jvaconsulting.com or call 800.292.9551.

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