It is hard to believe that February is already coming to a close and March is just around the corner. As we move quickly toward the end of Q1 2022, I wonder if what we’re feeling is a vibe shift in the digital health space. Yes, the wider world is in tumult and the urgency of now has never been more compelling. In the development space, it does feel like older aid-driven projects building open source tools for donors are increasingly supplanted, or complemented, by a rising demand for commercial-oriented solutions. In the health sector, NGOs, businesses, and even public health agencies need to engage their target audiences, generate referrals to products and services, solicit feedback on health system experiences, and visualize patterns and trends in their key populations or priority markets. These “jobs to be done” are increasingly being completed by companies like Nivi, allowing organizations to focus on their core strengths and deliver on their vision. Our updates this month highlight a few examples of where we are helping our customers to achieve their objectives.
In peace and solidarity,
Co-founder & CBO, Nivi
P.S. Channeling my former life as a public health researcher, I am reminded that in the family planning and social behavior change communication communities, conference abstracts are due soon: March 15th for the International Conference on Family Planning (ICFP) and March 14th for the International SBCC Summit 2022.
For nonprofits, commercial entities, and government agencies, Nivi has a narrow focus on doing four jobs: generating awareness, making referrals, sourcing feedback, and creating insights. Family planning programs tend to serve clients who are already aware of the benefits of contraception and see the relevance to their personal health objectives. High unmet demand and discontinuation rates are signs of a disconnect between available FP services and the needs of populations served.
In Nigeria, Society for Family Health (SFH) has been addressing both unmet need for contraception and limited contraceptive method mix by strengthening the quality of FP products and services at more than 900 Patent and Proprietary Medicine Vendors (PPMVs) and Community Pharmacists (CPs) in Lagos and Kaduna states under the four-year IntegratE 1.0 project (2017-2021). In the final year of IntegratE 1.0, SFH began using Nivi to strengthen consumer demand and help individuals along their health journey. For us, it was a great opportunity to generate reproductive health awareness and make referrals to a growing network of PPMVs and CPs. Between December 2020 and October 2021, we reached more than 9 million social media users with calls to action and engaged more than 60,000 users via our WhatsApp chat experience.
Both men and women sought FP information and counseling on Nivi (55% female), tended to be young (median 23 years, 20-28 IQR), and more urban than rural (22% rural). Nivi users came from a wide range of ward-level wealth quintiles (10% came from poorest 40% of wards) and highest user numbers were seen from Lagos, followed by Kaduna and Ogun states.
Our focus is helping people to connect with health products and services. Although it involves many moving pieces, at its core we give Nivi users a choice of pathways to a service referral specific enough to be relevant to the user.
The initial collaboration with SFH allowed Nivi to prove that we can reach tens of thousands of "FP curious" individuals, offer them FP information and digital counseling, and refer them to relevant services. Looking ahead, we have been improving our user experience, with recent updates to the referral engine that -
confirms a more specific location from the user with follow-on questions to allow for more precise referrals
provides users with referrals to a mix of e-commerce and brick-and-mortar locations
recommends specific services offered at facilities
remembers what referrals the user was given, and thus inquires where a user received service–setting up the ability to receive granular feedback
We are excited to partner with SFH and other stakeholders under Integrate 2.0 for four more years, expanding the IntegratE project to nine additional states in 2022 and 2023 and look forward to greater impact as Nivi broadens its marketplace helping consumers, businesses, and healthcare providers to do their jobs better and make progress along their respective journeys.
For Cervical Cancer Awareness Month in January, Nivi drew attention to the HPV and cervical cancer information and resources available through the askNivi platform, highlighting its awesome potential for stymieing the incidence of cervical cancer and preventing the unnecessary deaths of hundreds of thousands of women around the world—the vast majority of which take place in low- and middle-income countries. Despite it being one of the most preventable types of cancer death, cervical cancer mortality is predicted to increase by 42% in the regions in which Nivi operates over the next ten years; and a problem as urgent and inequitable as this one demands speedy, innovative solutions. To learn more, check out the article on Medium.
22 February 2021 “Pandemic Prompts New Digital Health Solutions for Family Planning”, Population Reference Bureau
9 February 2021 FHI 360 @R4SProject shared their review of client-facing FP digital health platforms and Nivi did well! Tweet
24 January 2021 “Self-Care and Pregnancy: Achieving Better Health Outcomes for Moms and Babies Through Tech Innovation in Nigeria”, Medium post
24 Dec 2021: “Nivi Is Now Helping Partners Accelerate and Scale up Their HIV/AIDS Response in Africa & India”, Medium post
21 July 2021 “Nivi Guides Expecting Parents in Nigeria through their Pregnancy Journeys”, Medium post
20 July 2021: Our peer-reviewed manuscript published in Translational Behavioral Medicine: Predicting healthcare-seeking behavior based on stated readiness to act: development and validation of a prediction model
A pillar of the askNivi chat experience is our Contraceptive Screening: In this part of the journey, we ask the user about her contraceptive and fertility preferences to algorithmically select the most relevant methods for her. The conversation culminates with delivering three contraceptive recommendations to our user; sometimes these methods can be pretty different–let’s say she was recommended condoms, an injectable, and an IUD. Condoms can be easily purchased at the local drug shop, or even online through an eCommerce site. Injectables, particularly if she’s a first-time injectable user, may require a medical consultation. Lastly, an IUD requires a facility visit.
Having just received these recommendations, she may want to weigh her options, and discuss with her partner, visit a pharmacist, or call a medical professional. Instead of asking even more questions about the TYPE of referral she’d want (facility, digital, or voice call) that would limit her choices–drumroll please–enter Unified Referrals!
Fully launched across all markets in November 2021, Nivi’s Unified Referrals engine matches our user with both physical facilities (clinics, chemists) and digital resources (e-commerce sites, e-pharmacies, and toll-free helplines). As a company, we feel strongly that users should be given informed choice along with access. Delivering up to 5 different referral resources in her “cart” allows our user to evaluate what is best for her.
Unified Referrals works not only for contraceptive methods; Any conversation where we want to refer a user for relevant products and services uses the same smart technology.
If you’d like the Nivi experience to deepen informed choice for your beneficiary population or to create demand for your products or services, reach out to our Chief Business Officer, Ben Bellows.