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doctHERs: Health, Wellness & Sustainable Living for Women in Emerging Markets

Year Founded:
Organization type: 
Project Stage:
$50,000 - $100,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

doctHERs™ connects marginalized communities to high-quality health & wellness services while re-integrating women healthcare professionals (both home-based doctors and community-based nurses and health promoters) into the health workforce in Pakistan.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if female doctors who were previously excluded from the health workforce due to sociocultural barriers, could leverage technology to provide affordable, high-quality health and wellness services and products to marginalized communities who lack acces
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

According to the Pakistan Medical & Dental Council (PMDC), out of 58,789 qualified female doctors only 7524 are actively practicing medicine (~13%). This gender-based exclusion is particularly problematic in a country where 66% of Pakistanis (~120 million) live near or below the poverty line (income less than $2/day) and 90% of this subpopulation cannot access affordable, quality healthcare.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

doctHERs leverages technology in the form of community health promoter (CHP) or nurse-assisted,video-consultation to connect home-based female doctors to remotely located patients through a state-of –the-art, HD video-consultation system. Remotely located doctHERs are able to provide health & wellness services with the help of a nurse or CHP who is either physically present at a community-based wellness clinic or is able to conduct Home Health Visits (HHVs). Examples of health & wellness services include the prevention, screening, diagnosis and treatment of: (i) infectious diseases and associated counseling on the importance of personal and environmental sanitation/hygiene and (ii) skin-hair-nail related problems along with health educatio


Winner of GE/Ashoka Changemakers, Women Empowering Work (MENA). ($25,000) Winner of [email protected] Challenge by CRDF Global ($25,0000) Winner of Shell Tameer Ward ($3000) Finalist for Unilever Sustainable Living – Young Entrepreneurs 2014 Finalist for Echoing
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

• Razia is a 36-year old textile worker who is 3 months pregnant and is having belly pain. Prior to doctHERs, Razia would have had to take a full day off from work (and lose her wages for that day) in order to see a gynecologist at a government hospital. Now with doctHERs, Razia is able to see a nurse who is located on-site at the factory. The nurse is able to connect Razia to a Ob-Gyn specialist via video-consultation and is able to conduct an antenatal ultrasound (US), under the guidance of the female doctor using a handheld US device. Reassured that her baby is developing normally, Razia continues her vitamin/mineral supplementation and is given additional advice about proper prenatal nutrition.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

Over the past 5 months, doctHERs has launched 2 clinics in urban slum areas and 1 clinic in a remote rural area, providing care to over 2500 patients at a cost of just $1/consultation. doctHERs has also conducted more than 10 health camps, providing surveillance screening to over 1000 slum dwellers for infectious disease conditions such as tuberculosis and hepatitis. Over 25 previously undiagnosed but infected patients have been successfully identified and treated as a result. doctHERs aims to scale its nurse/CHP-assisted videoconsultation program to over 2500 clinics nationwide, directly impacting over 1.2 million lives by 2020 and indirectly impacting 6 million lives. By adhering to clinical guidelines and implementing customer feedback loops, doctHERs encourages other providers to raise the quality of care they provide.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

doctHERs has engaged a number of multinational corporations (manufacturers and retailers) to offer this program to their supply chains. In addition, doctHERs is in active discussion with a provincial government to introduce its model across a cluster of 22 primary care centers (BHUs) in the pilot phase, followed by a potential national scale-up to 6500 BHUs. This model can be replicated throughout the MENASA region where women are discouraged from working in public spaces and even extends to female doctors of South Asian origin in developed markets in the EU and US.

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

doctHERs charges health plan members 300 Rupees ($3) per ‘virtual’ office visit and 100 Rupees ($1) per visit in underserved communities. 40% of gross revenue from each office visit is paid to the doctHER, 20% to the nurse/ community health worker and 25% is used to cover programmatic and operating expenses. This yields a ~15% net profit margin. Value added services costs a minimum of $0.50 to a maximum of $5.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

The major competitor to doctHERs™ remains the traditional, brick-and-mortar, community clinic model where the community seeks medical health care from less qualified healthcare providers (including quacks and ‘spiritual’ healers). In Pakistan, mobile health or mHealth is provided by 3 major organizations: • Aman Foundation • Telenor/eHealth Services • Marie Stopes Society None of these organizations, however, provide state-of-the-art telemedicine (TM) which involves video-consultation and imaging/diagnostic tests using peripheral diagnostic instruments that are attached to a TM system.

Founding Story

The inspiration behind doctHERs is Dr. Sara Khurram, Co-FoundHER and COO. doctHERs was conceived shortly after she conceived her baby. During her 1st trimester, she had to be on bed-rest and wondered if this would be the end of her medical career. Fortunately, her management thought otherwise and challenged her to create her own job while working from home. She felt really empowered and realized that there was a massive market opportunity for female doctors to be re-integrated into the workforce from home in a way which would address the healthcare needs of millions of underserved communities in Pakistan.


Dr. Asher Hasan, Co-Founder and Executive Chairman, is a US Ashoka fellow and the Founder and CEO of Naya Jeevan Dr. Sara Saeed, Co-FoundHER and full-time Chief Operating OfficHER, Dr. Sara has worked in medicine, gynecology, psychiatry and public health. Dr. Iffat Zafar, Co-FoundHER & Full-Time Chief Medical OfficHER, Dr. Iffat Zafar has completed her Medical degree and (PGY-1) in Medicine and Surgery. Sarah Ashraf, Full-time Grants Manager; is a graduate from Karachi University.
Please confirm how you heard about the Unilever Awards:

through website

Please confirm your role in the initiative (eg Founder/co-Founder) and your organisational title:

I am working as the Co Founder and Chief Medical Officer for doctHERs.

Which of the 8 UN Global Goals (Sustainable Development Goals) pre-selected for this competition does your solution relate most closely to? [select all that apply]

Gender Equality, Clean Water and Sanitation, Decent Work and Economic Growth.

Leadership and the Unilever Awards
Please provide examples of any previous entrepreneurial initiatives you have pioneered.

The entire doctHERs team has been an integral part of the award-winning social enterprise (Naya Jeevan) over the past 6 years. Naya Jeevan is Pakistan’s first health plan for the marginalized and collaborates with corporations to enroll their value chains into a private health insurance plan. It has provided over 65,000 low-income members with access to high-quality healthcare over the past 6 years. Iffat led the medical team at Naya Jeevan until Dec 2014, Sara has led the Community Health Services team at Naya Jeevan, Sarah has played a critical role in sales operations and business analytics while Asher is the Founder and continues to serve as its CEO. The team has successfully raised over $2 Million ($10 Million PPP) and scaled its healthcare provider network nationwide since its market launch in 2009

Beyond your existing team, who else are you working with to achieve your objectives, eg partners, advisors, mentors?

Our Key Partners include the following Organizations:

1. Naya Jeevan
As a result of its collaboration with Naya Jeevan, doctHERs has access to the following partners:

• UN Business Call to Action
• World Economic Forum/Schwab Foundation
• Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE)
• Ashoka
• Clinton Global Initiative

2. DKT International
A non-profit organization founded in 1989, DKTI has established a reputation for implementing high-impact and cost-efficient social marketing programs that reduce unwanted pregnancies and HIV infections in 18 countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. In 2012, DKT launched its latest program in Pakistan.

A key DKT objective is to reach the poor and ensure that one brand of every family planning method is affordable to low-income couples.

DKT Pakistan’s program called Dhanak addresses problems of supply and demand that have kept Pakistan’s contraceptive prevalence rate lower than its neighbors. Dhanak has a nationwide network of 800 Clinics across Pakistan operated by midwives & nurses. doctHERs has signed an MOU with DKTI to upgrade these Dhanak centers into tele-consultation centers, beginning from 5 clinics and scaling up to 80 clinics by 2016.

HCP GROUP is a privately owned company with its head office in Abbottabad, Pakistan providing integrated business solutions and outsourcing services under the active supervision of Mr. Umar Farooq. Co-Founder, Tech Valley Abbottabad. HCP is committed to providing innovative, reliable and affordable ICT solutions. HCP’s main objective is to simplify its technology experience for its entire customers, focusing on e-Governance, e-Business, logistics, system integration, web development, social media marketing, video production and consulting services

4. Tech4Life Enterprises
Tech4Life is a socially-motivated, innovative research and design company, specialized in medical devices and telemedicine software for the developing world. Its goal is to improve the health of the population in low and middle-income countries by strengthening health systems and empowering stakeholders through simple innovations and enabling the use of Information and Communication Technology.