PurpleSource Healthcare: Reflections on Learn and Launch

By Oludare Bodunrin, with Lane Goodman

Over several years, PurpleSource Healthcare’s co-founders Femi Sunmonu and Yomi Sule experienced frustrations with the variable business performance and health outcomes associated with the fragmented and poorly resourced Nigerian health sector. Nigeria’s health sector, like the mixed health systems in many developing countries, is characterized by inadequate regulation, quality controls and accepted low standards of care. These issues are compounded by inadequate access to finance, technology and poor management skills. However, Nigeria’s massive population and rapidly growing economy provide impetus and opportunity for innovation within the care delivery system. More recently, health officials are discussing a systems-level approach to address fragmentation and potentially bridge the divide between the public and private sectors. Public health officials are beginning to see the benefit in increased collaboration with private providers as the country tries to provide access to the entire “spectrum of care”.[1]

These frustrations and opportunities provided the impetus for Femi and Yomi to co-found PurpleSource Healthcare. The organization is driving change in the quality of care provided for and sought by Nigerians by addressing systemic operational challenges in struggling health centers in Lagos. By taking a systems approach in healthcare that builds on existing systems and infrastructure to deliver quality care, PurpleSource is creating a network of centers that place health impact on the same level as profit.  Their model provides the platform required to scale medical enterprises and optimize their clinical, financial and operational outcomes while delivering quality healthcare at affordable prices.

PurpleSource commenced operations in mid-2015 with the turnaround of a chain of seven medical facilities and quickly faced several dilemmas about how to sustainably introduce new ideas and investments. Hence, when presented with the opportunity to join CHMI’s Learn and Launch initiative, the organization gladly applied. The Learn and Launch is a peer-learning program designed to enable program managers to discuss shared challenges, and use their wealth of experience to collaborate on new solutions. Oludare Bodunrin, business development manager at PurpleSource, came to the Learn and Launch kick off workshop in Nairobi eager to address issues of health systems and business management with his peers. Oludare heard from Jacaranda Health that the key to achieving operational excellence lies in a qualified and motivated staff, determined to deliver high quality customer-focused care. Upon returning to Nigeria, Oludare began implementing ideas developed at the workshop, starting with an in-depth market research study to better understand PurpleSource’s customers. This was followed by the implementation of a call centre to allow for improved customer relations by creating a point of contact for customers and a feedback mechanism.

Asked about the Learn and Launch workshop, Oludare said that his high point was joining peer program managers in an intimate and interactive discussion, noting it was “Probably the most impactful session that I’ve had in learning. Close, compact, and deep!” The organization’s goal to “build systems that can take us further, together,” is widely shared among the Learn and Launch cohort, and the CHMI team is eager to report back on PurpleSource’s future progress. Stay tuned for more!