Yapili aims to link people in need of health advice with doctors worldwide. They enable peer to peer medical advice online. What a nobel idea!
We had a chat with Mindaugas Kaziulis, or Mindo for simplicity’s sake, originally from Lithuania. Him and his team moved in The Hague with a big part of his team.
Yapili exists because Sub-Saharan Africans even in urban areas have difficulty accessing doctors and clinics for physical visits.
Africa deserves and needs better healthcare. One doctor in Africa serves ~ 10,000 patients (vs. ~ 40 to 10,000 in Europe)
They aim to solve this in an innovative way. Yapili’s technology enables conversation between two different parties, some people call it a chat screen. The platform is an easy to understand conversational interface in a web app. I have been through the prototype and it looks clean, effective and comforting.
The Yapili service does three main things
- Connect to a physician for medical advice and potential follow up
- Maintain and secure medical histories online
- Contribute to a better global health with improving data quality and analytics
When having a social impact business like this, you need credibility from smart local partnerships, The Hague offers that in all different ways.
Looking for a place to work
In looking for a location to move operations to you consider all the options. Generally Holland is fruitful for interesting partnerships and people that think alike. Because social businesses are booming and it’s widely supported and encouraged.
“The Hague as such is home to many interesting organisations. With a great connection municipality and their generous help, we feel more than welcome. The bonding with networks and events is super efficient here!” explains Mindaugas.
They need a an international acclaimed and trusted legal system. This responsibility can be executed with different key partners. This place totally made it happen.
“To set something up like this is multilayer challenge, it all came together in The Hague in Holland.”
Germany or Belgium were other options. Mindo elaborates: “Because of the partnerships possible here and networks we made this decision. Access to potential funding, legal framework, supporting impact business just did it for us by a landslide.”
The Yapili team
Mister Kaziulis, I could easily call him the CEO but they don’t do those those titles. Mindo is the co founder and project manager of Yapili. The rest of the team is still a little spread out over the world. In a way they practice what they preach, they work remotely and they believe in the power of connection from a distance.
One of their helpful partner WestHolland Foreign Investment Agency. Another local partner is De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek N.V., offering legal assistance. These are the partners you can expect from Holland, or the Netherlands for that matter.
The team gathers from time to time. “This weekend we are all in the Hague and aimed to more and more team building and discuss interesting new perspectives with our local partners and stakeholders.” Mindaugus emphasis the importance of being together regularly, you can feel and sense each other better.
Where did Yapili start?
The idea started during an incubation trip with German NGO Ampion http://www.ampion.org/ . The adventure was aimed to accel e-health progress in Africa and they visited multiple countries to conduct a research and get inspiration.
Initially the idea was a peer to peer network for local doctors towards local patients in order to establish digital medical records for the Africans. However, the concept was challenged by the availability of doctors not only in rural areas, but even in cities. To put it in perspective, you have 40 times more doctors per person in the West than in the African states. In addition, the problem of brain drain of local doctors in Africa adds to the issue of limited access to healthcare.
Then the idea came to become a cross border doctor matching platform. Yapili enables that medical professionals everywhere in the world can share their advice to people in need. Particularly those that studied tropical medicine and/or served as volunteers in the African States like Doctors without Borders or similar programmes. Furthermore, in the case of African born doctors abroad, they give back to their original community.
Yapili has an amazing advisory board of 7 members in place!
- Guus ten Asbroek (Amsterdam Health and Technology Institute)
- Claire Barnhoorn (Delalune Consulting)
- Cees Hesp
- Ulrich Mans (Centre for Innovation, University of Leiden)
- Michiel van Veelen (University of Botswana, Stichting Outdoor Medicine)
- Maarten van der Veen
- Robert Simpson
At a later stage, they expect to establish training programmes for tropical medicine and include licenced doctors from countries with a relative surplus of doctors who are willing to do go outside of work hours, expand their field of knowledge and/or earn extra income.
The ambition is more health for more people. Better health for local populations. Because better health means a better economy!
Yapili taps in to a market of ~ 50 million English speakers able to access Internet (in seven countries analysed)
The team has not started the pilot yet. Now it’s incorporation first. November limited small scale pilot. This way they can manually follow up and get feedback for quick improvements. For full scale deployment they need a strong business case. There must be a validated technical solution present supported by a legal framework in order to secure, funding from (social) investors.
How you can help Yapili
When asked for a call to action for this article, Mindo named multiple things, and did not stop there. There’s lots of exciting things they are working on, and if you can offer help in any way, let them know. Because they are a great bunch of people!
Predominantly they are looking for people that are interested in their cause, and potential users for their pilot.
If you have a good network in any African state, contact them. Someone local with medical and legal experience there would be a great addition to their advisory board or team. Think mainly of Kenya, Tanzania, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, South Africa and Nigeria (the 7 english speaking countries for the pilot).
If you are thrilled to work with big data, there is a big need to analyse the data provided by patients and doctors in the near future (during and after the pilot). The patient data remains the data owned by the patient (and is secured and encrypted). But there’s an ambition for a high level aggregated analysis, and they need help with that. Maybe a good partnership with a university is a great match.
Furthermore they need some passionate ‘people people’ volunteers (read: social interns) to follow up with doctors and patients during and after the pilot.
If you think this is the future, share this interview and give them a pat on the shoulder! The Hague is happy to have such an impactful good business addition to the network.