Indeed, the Nigerian Health system is beginning to witness major shift in the adoption of technology as a driving tool to improving her health indices. One of such health tech start ups gradually changing the ways things are done is Health Then More. In this broad interview with Dr Rebecca Okolo, the Administrator of Health Then More, we can boldly say that the future is bright (and profitable) for medical and health professionals looking to begin a start up.
This interview was between Dr Emeka Okolo H, Principal Writer DoctorsQuarters.com (represented as Dr Emy) and Dr Rebecca Okolo, Administrator Health Then More (represented as Dr RO). HTM means Health Then More.
~Dr Emy – Hello Dr Rebecca, I am so glad to finally do this interview session with you. Can we meet you? Know a little more about you?
Dr RO – Hello DoctorsQuarters it is a privilege to be in this interview session. Uhmm… A little about me? I am Dr Rebecca Okolo, the Administrator of Health Then More and I love watching series, especially supernatural alien movies.
~Dr Emy – Your company name Health Then More is so unique and compelling, give us the reason for the choice in the name
Dr RO – Thank you very much (chuckles), I am glad you think it is unique and compelling.
~Dr Emy – What is HealthThenMore all about?
Dr RO – Well, when I was trying to come up with a name for my blog, because Health Then More started as a blog, I was very interested in a name that would give me flexibility, in the sense that a lot of the time when you start out something, you may realize some things need to be changes. So I needed a name that would give that flexibility as well as give me the opportunity to post contents daily. In addition to this, I wanted not to be restricted to any particular arm of medicine, i.e dealing with just doctors or nurses, I wanted HTM to be something for all medics.
I tried not to choose a name that will restrict me to a professional group.
Then about the ‘Then More’, I added that other part of the name because I am somebody that thinks a lot. I like to come up with new ideas and new ways of doing things. So, I wanted a case where ‘Then More’ means more things will be coming up, for as they come up, I am going to be adding them.
HTM is about news, about jokes, about education, inspiration and more, because there will always be more things I am going to do.
~Dr Emy – You are a medical doctor… Can you let us a little into your educational background?
Dr RO – I completed all of my education in Nigeria. Yes, my primary school was in Benin City; secondary school was in Benin City & Lagos states. After which I returned to Edo state for my MBBS – I got this from Igbinedion University, Okada. Then I had to get my license from Obafemi Awolowo University because my university was not accredited at that time. There, I did the MDCN Exams .
~Dr Emy – Do you consider yourself an entrepreneur? Why are you an entrepreneur
Dr RO – (Chuckles) Am I an entrepreneur? (Sighs) I guess some people say when you start up something, you are an entrepreneur. So in that sense, Yes, starting Health Then More makes me an entrepreneur.
~Dr Emy – Through more light on specific key services your company offer?
Dr RO – Hmm… for now, I would like to say HTM is a brand. It started off as a blog, but for now what we are doing is the news, the education, Meet The Medic, Medic Talks, Medic Game Show. But at the end of it, it is going to be a multimedia Health Company.
~Dr Emy – Why did you decide to start your company/How (when) did you get the idea for your brand
Dr RO – I got the idea for HTM in February 2015, and I got the idea because I was bored. I just got married, so I was not working and I just joined my husband in Canada. So from day-to-day, I kept watching all the movies on you tube, all the Yoruba movies to be specific and I got tired. I asked myself what else can I do as I did not have a job, no certifications as at then but I realized I had internet access. When I was in Benin, I used to attend this Church where my pastor drummed this message into my ears; “Everything you need to do, whatever you want to do is right where you are. So if you realize that all the opportunities you need to do things are around you, you will stop limiting yourself”.
Back to what I was saying, I started HTM out of boredom with internet being all I had. I had to make use of that internet to blog. That was how HTM started. Granted, I actually wanted to blog social stuff as on Linda Ikeji Blog, but I realized that those kind of blogs…, I would not be good at it since I don’t know anybody in the field, I was not passionate at that field. I felt that as a medical doctor, interested in health, if I blog health stuff, I would be learning more about what is happening in my profession; so why don’t I go into medical blogging.
So in February 2015, I started blogging and Health Then More was born.
~Dr Emy – I think your start-up is a promising one, but do people care, value, appreciate its importance…. Do you think they are willing to pay for it?
Dr RO – Hmm, thank you (Chuckles). There is nothing that is 100% in this life and honestly, some people care and some people don’t, some people appreciate what I am doing right now. Sometimes I like to say ‘we’ because of the support I get from other people. I am very grateful to all the people that care and appreciate what I am doing. This is why I am committed to providing the best kind of service.
On the payment question, for now, Yes I have gotten a couple of payments. They are not many at all. But I am more passionate about quality than money. Because you can build a name and money will come later. So I am not focused on the money for now.
~Dr Emy – As an online company, what particular demographics patronize your services. By percentage, are Nigerian any where near 50% of your clientele base.
Dr RO – Well my first client was from Nigeria. It was an online store and it was not on Instagram. The second client was from outside the country. Our clients are not restricted to only Nigeria. Nigerians are close to 50% of my clientele base, even though I do have a lot of foreign clients.
~Dr Emy – You are about to run a Medic Game Show… can you let us know more about this… What is the aim of this Game Show and why is it coming at this time?
Dr RO – I believe in working hard. I believe in getting results as well and I believe that “madness” is doing the same thing over and over again yet expecting a different result. So Yes, I have a goal as I mentioned. I have a target. So far what I have been doing, I need to ‘add to it’, need to improve, need to get better. So that is why I am doing the Medic Game Show which is going to enlighten a lot of medics, as well as entertain them. For those who would participate, they would also get to walk away with some prizes.
It is coming at this time because every business needs to grow. In every stage in life, you cant keep doing the same thing. You have to evolve. You cannot be the same person you were yesterday; so it is coming at this time because I have been doing the same thing for quite a while and I need to switch things up a bit.
~Dr Emy – Practically speaking, do you think the tech health sector in Nigeria is matured enough for the kind of advancements going on?
Dr RO – I don’t understand the kind of advancements going on, but if you mean like the things going on in Instagram, I think we are matured enough. I think people need information and sometimes you cannot get it on your own. You need someone to show you the path. This is why HTM started the Medic Talks, to get our voices as medic heard. I don’t want to restrict myself to doctors, even though it is hard, I don’t want it to be for just Medical Lab Scientists or nurses; I want it to be for everybody. Medic Talks on social media is to be a uniting force for medics in Nigeria, even though there are a lot of things that divide us. The social media space is to be something that unites us. So I think we are ready for this advancements.
~Dr Emy – What particular challenges stare at you as you offer your services, Personally and Business wise?
Dr RO – Before I talk of my challenges, I have to say God is my Strength and the Bible says I can do all things through Christ that strengthens me. When I started HTM, I noticed there were a lot of medical blogs before mine, but one thing I told myself was I tried to make HTM something that would be appeal to me. As a person, I really don’t really read so much; so I try to do things in a way to capture people like me that do not like to read so much.
In doing this, I had to make my blog a bit different from every other blog out there. Now when I started this medical blog, I started showing my own unique style. I was faced with a lot of people who were doing their own things, suddenly trying to do exactly what I am doing, in the same way, and trying to take credit for it.
For instance, I have doing HTM for about 2 years now, and just last year December 2017, I started Medic Talks. In less than two months from that, another medical page came up with Medic Talk and said they brain-stormed and came up with this name. So I really have to deal with people who ‘take’ your ideas and own it.
Business wise, I am constantly faced with challenges of getting materials and bring on new stuff, new ideas, constantly learning. You would not imagine the amount of hard work I have to put into HTM, just to be able to produce good results. It is really frustrating when some people are directly copying what you are doing and calling it their idea.
~Dr Emy – As a company with core values, what is your advise to young people who are expected to finish med school, even though they would rather explore other areas
Dr RO – Look, if I had someone sitting across from me asking me this question, I would tell the person “Do not allow anybody stop you”, Do not let anybody tell you what you can do and what you cannot do”. When I was a medical student, even though I was very financially stable, I always loved doing business. I would sell clothes, pants, beads, bracelets. I made handbags and in my final year, I actually had a shop and I would travel just to get stuff in my shop. I also went to tailoring school.
All these things made me understand what I am capable of. So my advice to medical students, “PLEASE EXPLORE YOUR TALENTS”. Don’t limit yourself, don’t let anybody stop you. This is an opportunity for you to learn and gather experience look beyond your books, look beyond to your future.
~Dr Emy – You are a trained medical doctor, do you still do clinical work? Give us an insight into this…
Dr RO – For now, I do not do any form of clinical work. I live in Canada at the moment. I am writing exams so I am not in any hospital.
~Dr Emy – Your company, HealthThenMore seem quite active Instagram… I see you have a followership of over 40,000… what other social media handles is HealthThenMore on? Are they equally as vibrant as the IG handle?
Dr RO – HTM is the most vibrant handle I have, the other ones are just “there”. They are not doing half as good as HTM on Instagram. This is because, most people are on instagram and I deliberately have to focus on Instagram to build my base.
~Dr Emy – In what ways have being an enterpreneur changed you
Dr RO – Being an entrepreneur has made me tough, strong. It has made me realize that you don’t have to suck up to anyone to be yourself. You can work hard, you can get there. If you believe in yourself, you don’t have to mind what other people are doing. Be sure this is what you want, then go get it. These are the ways that being entrepreneur has changed me. I am now tough.
~Dr Emy – Where do you see you brand in the next five years
Dr RO – Woow, this is a surprise question (Chuckles)… I see myself where God wants me to be. I cannot say, I cannot predict. I want to be big, I want to be known, I want all the good things but only God gives success. So I see myself exactly where God wants me to be in 5 years time.
~Dr Emy – Now be candid, if not medicine what else would you be doing?
Dr RO – Please please please, let me doing medicine (Laughs). I don’t want to do anything else. I would love to continue doing medicine and HTM.
~Dr Emy – Thanks for your time!!
Dr RO – Thank you very much DoctorsQuarters, I am glad you gave me this opportunity.