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Medical help that's a phone call away
Medical help that's a phone call away
Keith Florance (left), chief operations and technology officer, and Scott Emami, CEO
Company: TeleMed Africa
Team members: Keith Florance and Scott Emami, MBA candidates, Darden School of Business, University of Virginia.

Concept: More than half of sub-Saharan Africans lack access to basic health care and must travel hours to visit local clinics. The TeleMed Africa team has experience in microfinance and healthcare technology, and aims to use mobile phones to connect nurses with patients who need medical advice. The potential customer base? The region's 260 million cell users.

Rather than operate staffed call centers, TeleMed intends to partner with local doctors and nurses and collect a fee per call. At a patient cost of $2 per call, it's not going to reach "the poorest of the poor," says CEO Scott Emami, "but it will advance the front line."

Emami and his partners launched a prototype in western Kenya last year, serving 90 patients free of charge and heading off clinic visits for more than half of them. Calls poured in for everything from "malaria to a dog bite," Emami says. The team plans to hone its concept by entering several other competitions this year before approaching investors.

Timeline: TeleMed will head to Kenya this summer to launch its fee-bearing service. Emami is scheduled to start a job in healthcare consulting in September. If things go well in Kenya, Emami says, he won't be showing up for the first day of work.

NEXT: New ways to combat an old plague

LAST UPDATE: Apr 21 2009 | 4:31 PM ET
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