One of the many struggling public systems that the majority of South Africans reluctantly have to rely on – is healthcare.

The South African government spends over R168 billion annually [that about 10% of the total annual budget] on healthcare in this country – most of which goes to fixing the problem once it has already occurred, rather than trying to prevent illness and disease in the first place.

But it’s not just the South African health system which is stuck in dated thinking and legacy systems, which function more like a business than a proper network of preventative caregivers.

The US, famously, is also struggling to delivery innovative, affordable healthcare solutions to the majority of Americans, which obviously means that a gaping void has now been created for future-thinking entrepreneurs to offer alternatives that actually work.

Nurx is a Silicon Valley-based subscription service, which prescribes birth control online and mails it to users.

You register for a free account online, fill out a questionnaire of basic medical inquiries, exchange a few instant messages with a licensed doctor, and receive a package in the mail containing your birth-control method of choice. There are no consultation or delivery fees, so in most cases if you have insurance, it’s free. If you don’t have insurance, then you pay only for the cost of the medication itself. via

Disillusioned by the bureaucratic nonsense of the US healthcare system, Jessica Knox – a newly qualified doctor – decided to join the startup as a practitioner instead of going the usual route into medical practice.

And the good news is that a very similar service is also available in South Africa too.

Launched just a couple of weeks ago, The Pill Squad allows users to create and account, load a prescription and get the contraceptive pill delivered to their door. The service is currently being piloted in Stellenbosch, but even though it’s early days – is an exciting step in this innovative direction.

If there’s one thing we are very sure of, it’s that the South Africa medical system is in desperate need of innovative alternatives to the current paradigm of how things are done.

Just pay a visit to any state hospital and the glaring dysfunctional expenditure of R168 billion is clear to see.

Technology and systems thinking in combination hold an exciting opportunity to rethink the operational processes in this sphere, both here in South Africa and the broader region, and most certainly is an area to consider for aspiring innovators.

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