Flare, the ambulance Uber in Nairobi

Using an integrated ambulance dispatch system, Flare is a next-generation tech product that cuts hours to minutes in medical emergencies in East Africa.

Despite hosting some of sub-Saharan Africa’s most rapidly growing technology hubs, the city of Nairobi, has a deficient emergency response system – a far cry from 9-1-1 in the United States. Although many health programmes and initiatives currently exist, patients are unable to access efficient, quality and affordable healthcare in this East African region.

Flare is an integrated emergency response system that seeks to afford patients a digitised tool to access an ambulance in the time of an emergency. Every second matters in an emergency, and at present, approximately 70-million Africans each year have no way of getting to a hospital when a medical emergency strikes. In Nairobi, specifically, it takes up to two hours to get an ambulance as there is no centralised telephone number to call in the event of an emergency. The Flare infrastructure coordinates the transportation of patients in an emergency taking into account all the available ambulances and hospitals capacities within the region’s network. Presently, there are no centralised dispatch systems in Africa for medical emergency organisations.

Furthermore, this web-based emergency response interface enables existing dispatch centres to track and manage their fleet with Smartphone located inside these ambulances. The devices run on an Android application and track activity, location and allow operators to accept "pick-ups", offers navigational assistance and direct communication channels for drivers to contact patients and/or hospitals.

For the patients, Flare offers a seamless way of scheduling and paying for transportation to hospitals and healthcare centres in that patients can create profiles to map out emergency plans and save important personal information. This information can be transmitted to the ambulance – giving the ambulance immediate insight into the patient; from medical records, health insurance details, hospital preference or assigned physician.

In a typical emergency scenario, mortality is exceptionally high – sitting at approximately 10-15 per cent. This is due to patients being unable to access quality and efficient care quickly as a direct result of there being no centralised emergency response system. The other reason for the high mortality rate is the delay due to lack of patient insight once the patient arrives at the medical facility – delays that often prove to be fatal. 

This aggregated system empowers the entire medical emergency value chain in the even of an emergency. Its intuitive platform creates a seamless integration between medical service providers and patients who require such care, by leveraging traffic and its own system data to save lives.

Research has shown that each minute saved in a medical emergency can increase patient chance of survival by eight per cent. In Kenya alone, there are around three million emergencies each year. If this system is able to reduce the transportation time from its point of emergency to when a patient is treated by 30 minutes (it is currently 90 minutes), 100 000 lives in Kenya could be saved every year. That equates to around three million African lives!

More on Design Thinking