Google-backed HealthDart to add AI to health app

Sibahle Malinga
By Sibahle Malinga, ITWeb senior news journalist.
Johannesburg, 12 Jul 2023
HealthDart co-founder and CEO Njabulo Skhosana.
HealthDart co-founder and CEO Njabulo Skhosana.

Johannesburg-based local start-up HealthDart will refurbish its app-based health services with artificial intelligence (AI) tools, after receiving funding support from Google’s Start-ups Black Founders Fund.

Last month, the company was among the 25 African start-ups selected to receive a share of $4 million (R73 million), in the 2023 edition of the accelerator.

The fund aims to help tackle systemic racial inequality in venture capital funding, by providing equity-free grants and mentorship to early stage, black-led, high-growth businesses across Europe and Africa.

HealthDart says its inclusion in the cohort comes with up to $150 000 in non-dilutive cash awards, $200 000 in Google Cloud credits, Google Ads support, and one-on-one mentorship from Google and industry experts.

Launched in 2021, the “digital pharmacy” connects patients to consultations with pharmacists and nurses, and also provides access to medication and health insurance.

Last year, the company launched an AI triage chatbot and is now working with Google to take it to the next level.

HealthDart co-founder and CEO Njabulo Skhosana explains: “Via our mobile app, patients can undergo basic screening, schedule consultations with doctors and nurses (virtual and physical consultations), and order medication for delivery to their door.

“We are in the process of building additional tech and AI-based features for launch at the end of this quarter. We will primarily be working with Google to implement AI into clinical and non-clinical (operational) functions in our business.”

Triage chatbots are considered an alternative to googling the internet for symptoms, to try and identify an ailment, adds Skhosana.

The HealthDart chatbot will provide more accurate info by asking the patient a number of questions based on the symptoms they present.

Skhosana, who is a pharmacologist by profession, spent several years in the UK working for Bupa, a multinational health insurance company. In 2013, he returned to SA to work for Deloitte Consulting’s Life Sciences and Healthcare division.

According to Skhosana, the key objective of the app is to make accessing basic healthcare easy and affordable for South Africans – through the use of technology.

The app uses innovative tech, combined with patients’ health history, symptoms and general demographic information, to help users find the quickest and affordable way to solve their health-related issues, notes HealthDart.

Consultations range from R120 to R500, and the app has among the most cost-efficient medication prices in the local market, says Skhosana.

“By integrating pharmacy, telemedicine and insurance with seamless payment options, we ensure affordable access to comprehensive primary healthcare. With the support of Google, we are poised to further enhance our platform.”