Advancing cancer care in Nigeria
At a glance
When e-health startup Oncopadi won the Astellas Changing Cancer Care (C3) contest, we partnered to help the company mature its business model and expand its user base while creating new revenue streams via partnerships.
Oncopadi is now better positioned to provide the Nigerian people with access to oncology care and structured for the future with scalable revenue.
Connecting cancer patients with clinicians
Many types of cancer are treatable, and even preventable—if you’re able to access the oncology care you need. In many parts of the world, that luxury doesn’t exist.
Inequities in healthcare systems across the globe lead to a lack of preventive care, education, access, and more. Many people are left stuck on the wrong side of the healthcare equation—and that can be dangerous, if not deadly.
In Nigeria, the challenge is a critical shortage of healthcare professionals, particularly clinical oncologists (COs). There are currently only 78 practicing COs in Nigeria with a ratio of 1 CO to 1,645 new cancer patients.
That’s where Oncopadi comes in. The mission-driven startup serves 30 healthcare institutions in 19 states across Nigeria with e-patient health platforms to help patients connect with clinical oncologists.
Because most of the COs practice in the larger cities, care is not easily accessible for patients who live farther away from the city centers. The shortage of COs and high patient loads for the current clinicians compound the problem, as does the relatively high cost of subscription fees for Oncopadi’s previous health platform. In too many cases, patients end up seeking care when they’re at a later stage in their cancer and treatment options are slim.
For Dr. Omolola Salako—oncologist, cofounder, and CEO of Oncopadi—the quest for better cancer care is personal. She lost her sister to cancer many years ago, and improving cancer care in Nigeria has become her life’s work.
Oncopadi’s other cofounder, Dr. Adaorah Momodu, brings a focus on developing award-winning, technology-powered solutions that help people. “I am passionate about solving issues sitting at the intersection of technology, healthcare, and innovation,” Dr. Momodu says.
To improve access to care and help patients receive treatment earlier on in their cancer journeys, Oncopadi built a health platform to focus on e-patient care. Oncopadi needed to continue providing patient care with solutions that would deliver the best experiences and scale for future growth as its partnerships and user base expanded.
Astellas’ C3 contest brings hope for change
Oncopadi entered Astellas' annual Changing Cancer Care (C3) contest. Each year, Astellas Pharma holds a global challenge to bring forward the latest non-treatment ideas for advancements in cancer care for patients, caregivers, and providers. The contest rewards the grand prize winner with a grant, as well as consulting services to help bring an idea to life or to advance its lifesaving capabilities.
In 2021, that winner was Oncopadi, and Slalom was delighted to be the consulting partner.
Working toward an impactful outcome
Slalom mobilized to understand Oncopadi’s mission and business, and then determined the most impactful ways to help.
Our team hosted a workshop to help Oncopadi build a pitch deck with key messaging that could be used to secure new partnerships and sponsorships. We also cocreated a business backlog to help the company prioritize its business ideas, such as new services and platform functionality. Together, Slalom and Oncopadi discussed how to create prioritization criteria to use resources most effectively and finish building the services that would be most valuable to Oncopadi’s patients. In addition to reviewing operational ways to expand growth, Slalom worked with Oncopadi to increase its patient base by understanding and intentionally managing the user experience with persona and customer journey mapping tools.
In all, Slalom provided more than 125 hours of consulting services with workshops, a pitch deck, partnership backlog, persona framework, user journey map, and a product evolution scoring framework.
“In one session with Slalom, we looked at all of our various user personas,” says Momodu. “Then we began to sort and invest heavily in the two most common user personas that we identified, looking at how we could best provide information to these groups.”
Dr. Salako adds, “It was one session—but it has a lifelong application to many of our decisions when we’re building new products or programs.”
Following our discussions, Oncopadi reworked its digital presence and prioritized building services that targeted its largest user base. Today, the company has three products: an e-patient mobile app, a web app, and a virtual tumor board. With the tumor board, Oncopadi sets up virtual cancer hubs where patients can walk in and interact with virtual oncologists in collaboration with local physicians.
Breaking down inequities and increasing access
Thanks to the Oncopadi team—as well as the Slalom consultants—more Nigerian cancer patients can access digital cancer care today. The barriers of cost and geographic location have both been improved due to new partnerships and rebranded patient experiences.
Oncopadi has also been able to create educational videos for patients, and the company is already receiving positive reviews from the cancer community.
As for the user base? It’s grown—and Dr. Salako is hopeful it will increase exponentially in the future. “We want to drive our user base to 15,000,” says Dr. Salako. “Currently we’re at 3,000 users, and when we engaged with Slalom, we were at 1,000.”
The doctors also see improvements in Oncopadi’s communications, which now speak more closely to the cancer patients and overall cancer community. “We deliberately invested in copywriters to improve our messaging, and that idea came from the C3 prize money.”
Reaching more people with new partnerships
All the messaging and strategy work led to successful pitch meetings and additional funding streams. Oncopadi can continue to operate and grow due to sponsorships, partnerships, and advertising on its platform.
“We now understand what we want to sell and what we want from each partner,” says Dr. Momodu. “We can now be more specific with our asks and how we work together with our partners.”
The Slalom-Astellas C3 partnership helped Oncopadi create new solutions that specifically benefit patients and their caregivers, such as the member journey mapping work.
“I think creating the member journey was a huge benefit as it’s something we hadn’t done before,” says Dr. Momodu. “It helped us set the stage for some patient-centric solutions that we’ve been able to develop such as the virtual tumor board and patient-reported side effects.”
Moving forward—with heart
Oncopadi looks forward to establishing partnerships with more hospitals and pharmaceutical companies and breaking even in revenue by 2024. The doctors believe the ongoing partnership discussions to date have been a success—and eagerly anticipate where these relationships will go in the future.
While Oncopadi has big dreams, the end goal remains closer to the heart: helping patients.
“For us, the goal at Oncopadi remains the same: we want to connect cancer patients with lifesaving resources quickly, whether that’s connecting them with specialists, clinics, or coping resources. That’s really the goal,” says Dr. Momodu.
As of 2022, Slalom is now working with the next Astellas C3 winner. These types of partnerships benefit everyone—from patients to providers. Most importantly, they help cancer care innovators save lives—just like Oncopadi is doing.
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