Like the famous founders of Reddit, Facebook, and Dell, Aris and Yiwen founded Mobility as college students. In fact, they met when they lived in the same hall freshman year, just a couple doors down from each other. They bonded over the fact that they were both Canadian.
Flash forward to sophomore year, their friendship began to turn into a business partnership. Realizing they were both interested in healthcare, given that it is an industry where impact on the world is direct, tangible, and immense, they began their discussions. Aris and Yiwen saw a forked road ahead of them. One possibility was the path of scientific innovation. The alternative was focused on improving access to healthcare in the first place. The co-founders quickly realized that increasing access to healthcare would give them the opportunity to actualize their ideal goal: making the biggest impact on people’s lives. For what was the point of scientific innovation if people could not access those solutions?
Aris and Yiwen decided to focus their attention on South Africa, after much research, because it was one area they felt had both maximum need and maximum opportunity for impact. South Africa has poor health status indicators relative to comparable middle-income countries, indicating poor use and distribution of available healthcare resources. Subsequently, through discussions and lots of research, they realized that patients struggled to access transportation to clinics. Moreover, if people had strenuous jobs and families, they often did not have time for appointments. This was especially true for people with chronic conditions, like diabetes, where patients require long-term care and need to visit the hospital frequently — necessitating monthly or even weekly appointments. People, even with life-altering conditions, were unable to reach their doctors.
Consequently, Aris and Yiwen founded Mobility, a software-oriented social impact enterprise. In simplest terms, Mobility empowers healthcare providers to facilitate at-home care. The software itself is multi-faceted. There are three core interfaces and each parallels one of the three main healthcare stakeholders. First, mobility supports clinics. Mobility provides them with a web dashboard that allows clinics to book healthcare visits and also allows them to track their patients and upcoming appointments. Secondly, Mobility helps healthcare workers by providing updates about upcoming appointments through an app. Healthcare workers are also given an itinerary of all their daily appointments and a checklist to be completed for each patient. Lastly, Mobility serves patients themselves by sending out SMS messages regarding upcoming visits. Patients can also directly text any questions or concerns they might have to their clinics and healthcare workers via Mobility.
Aris notes that the most important software consideration is “keeping the process as simple and efficient as possible. Healthcare work is time-intensive, and we need to be sensitive to that.”
In this competitive landscape, there are pharmacies and clinics that provide at-home care in South Africa and globally. There are also software systems, such as EHR, providing compatible software. Mobility’s competitive advantage, however, lies in the fact that the company does not see itself as a healthcare provider, but purely as a software solution. Thus, clinicians who provide at-home care are not competitors, but allies. Generally, clinics either have their own workforce or workflow that Mobility helps them better utilize. Mobility also provides clinics with access to networks that can help them better provide at-home care. For instance, if the clinics need additional staff, Mobility can help connect them with the correct personnel. Additionally, since the pandemic shifted the focus from facilities to at-home care, the market opportunity is perpetually expanding. Mobility tackles two of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals: “Good health and well-being” and “reduced inequalities.”
After winning $100,000 through UPenn’s President's Innovation Prize, and receiving a couple thousand dollars of additional support from groups like the M&T Innovation Fund, Mobility is fast-tracked for growth. Currently, the team is looking to use their funding to recruit an additional developer to build out software capabilities. They are also looking to release an app for patients, and hope to be generating revenue soon through sales of their software. Beyond working in South Africa, Mobility aims to address healthcare access in the US.
The U.S. is next on their list because the team noted that “The [U.S.] market is shifting towards telehealth. Before the pandemic, 5% of the U.S. population had telehealth visits and now 75% have.” They know, however, that Telehealth alone is not comprehensive. “70% of all healthcare visits require specimen collection, so you need a healthcare professional conducting those.” The expanding market opportunity in the U.S., and flaws with the telehealth system, make this market intriguing for the Mobility team. Additionally, the co-founders are currently based in Philadelphia, which would allow them to be hands-on with their expansion efforts.
These are the same trends and insights that the Mobility team is chronicling through their Medium account, which readers interested in healthcare should definitely check out. If you are looking for other ways to get involved, visit their website or contact either email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information