Innovation at its finest: Bringing together resources to make a difference in patient care in Zimbabwe.
“Resolve. Advance. Care.” is the mission statement for Impact Pharmacy, located in Zimbabwe, Quickly making an impact on the patients of Zimbabwe, this innovative company is dedicated to aid in the improvement and promotion of pharmacy within the country. Never before has Zimbabwe had a single website or online database to help address basic questions about pharmacy care and advancement in Zimbabwe. That is, until Impact Pharmacy.
Founded by Munashe Kaseke, PharmD, a 2012 Drake pharmacy graduate, who implemented this solution after encountering a gap in Zimbabwe’s pharmacy practice when she could not find answers to even some basic pharmacy questions. While in pharmacy school, she envisioned a website design that would give Zimbabwe pharmacies an online presence and provide others in the profession resources to improve their patients’ quality of life through appropriate therapeutic outcomes. Her vision was to create a one-stop informational resource for pharmacists, students, and patients alike.
Dr. Kaseke realizes the importance of technological advances in all aspects of life in today’s society. Pharmacy practice is no exception. Technological advancements allow providers, practitioners, and patients to have more efficiency in their interactions and outcomes. Dr. Kaseke said, “Impact Pharmacy is leading the advancement path for Zimbabweans in the healthcare field.”
Some features of Impact Pharmacy’s website are:
- Up to date news page of innovations and advancements in a variety of pharmacy areas
- Single portal for Zimbabwean pharmacists to view/access research publications
- Online submission and publishing site for peer-reviewed research data or articles written by for pharmacists and students.
- Free educational material (e.g. tutorials) to aid student technicians in certification attainment
- Information about Internship/Scholarship opportunities
Looking at what Impact Pharmacy has to offer and how far they have advanced since the beginning, Dr. Kaseke proudly recalled several accomplishments in the very first year that made a large impact on pharmacy practice in Zimbabwe. That year, they published student research that no one would otherwise have read, awarded scholarships to pharmacy students on the verge of dropping out of college due to financial constraints, and made internship opportunities available to students. They also celebrated achievements of outstanding pharmacists on their website. Their efforts and online presence also allowed them to publish news about the great work and/or important events around the country. They have rightly become the “go to information database for the profession in Zimbabwe”. They have made a difference by helping pharmacists, providers, and patients.
We had the opportunity to ask social entrepreneur, Munashe Kaseke, Pharm.D. questions related to her innovation and her future plans.
1. Upon graduating from Drake University, what steps did you take in order to create Impact Pharmacy from the vision you had in mind?
Upon graduating, my first step was to find a web-designer. I knew exactly what I wanted, and it worked out well that I had a friend who was starting his web design company. So he immediately picked up on the project. My second challenge was that I was still living and working in the U.S. Therefore, I needed to have someone in Zimbabwe who could alert me of newsworthy events for the website and also someone to help promote us to local Zimbabwean students and professionals. The next step I took which helped us get on our feet was hiring an intern. He was a pharmacy student at the University of Zimbabwe at that time. He did most of the publicity for Impact Pharmacy and connected us to prominent figures in the profession. We sponsored events around the country and made a name for ourselves. With those simple steps, I was able to get started.
2. In your opinion, what factors allowed Impact Pharmacy to be successful?
Well, to begin with, we were the only ones in the country trying to create an online presence for the pharmacy profession in Zimbabwe. Since there was not any competition and a lot of people agreed that advancement was needed in this area, however they were simply not sure where to begin. So we were easily welcomed. We made sure that our website was Search Engine Optimized so that we would come up when someone googled pharmacy and Zimbabwe in the same phrase. Lastly, we found ways of engaging both pharmacy students and pharmacists through the various opportunities we offered.
3. What is Impact Pharmacy currently working on, and why did you decide it was the next important step for Impact Pharmacy?
The next step is to expand from serving pharmacy professionals to also serving the Zimbabwean patient population. We realized that though we have taken some important steps to be proud of, there was a much larger patient population that we could be serving. In December of this year, we will open our first community pharmacy in Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare. What will make us unique is that we have designed an online payment system that will be accessible via our website.
There are a lot of Zimbabweans who moved abroad during Zimbabwe’s economic turmoil. Most of these people support their relatives in Zimbabwe financially. About 1/4th of Zimbabwe’s total 12 million population lives outside of Zimbabwe. These individuals are the breadwinners for most of their relatives. Our online payment system will allow for those Zimbabweans around the world to make payments on prescription items for a patient in Harare who just got their prescription filled at Impact Pharmacy. This will increase therapeutic outcomes for those who usually skip doses due to financial constraints but have a loved one outside of the country who is willing to pick up the medical cost on their behalf. We will also offer nutrition and hygiene hampers of various sizes as part our preventative care initiative. These can be ordered from any part of the world and picked up at our Harare location by the beneficiary.
4. What do you want to accomplish in the future as Impact Pharmacy continues to grow?
We also are excited to introduce our new hospital bill pay service. No one in the world is currently doing what we are doing in Zimbabwe. Impact Pharmacy will offer a nationwide hospital bill pay service for other non-pharmacy bills like those from a hospital or clinic. The patient needing financial assistance can take a picture of their bill and send us an image via a text messaging app. We will input the patient information into the website and generate for them a reference number. This can be used by individuals the world over to settle hospital bills on behalf of their dependents via our website. Impact Pharmacy will then distribute the funds to each hospital on the patient’s behalf and send the patient a confirmation number.
Lastly, we are also planning to offer an international rotation for pharmacy students in the U.S. who are interested in Global Public Health. We will offer a 4 week rotation in Zimbabwe that will allow PharmD students in the U.S. to spend time at Impact Pharmacy serving the Zimbabwean patient population. We will also make sure they visit the Victoria Falls, one of the seven natural world wonders and other tourist sites in Zimbabwe.
5. Finally, what advice do you have for others who want to pursue an idea to make a difference in another part of the world like you did?
I would say, find out what the greatest need is and fill that need. You do not need to have it all figured out before you start. Just start making the steps one at a time and soon you will discover other ways that you expand your efforts. Make sure it’s something that you are passionate about as well. Passion drives an entrepreneurial mind.
With Impact Pharmacy’s presence growing since 2012 when Dr. Kaseke began her vision, it continues to make a difference for both health care professionals and patients. However, it will not stop there! Impact Pharmacy hopes to expand pharmacy services to include vaccinations and blood glucose testing for diabetic patients. Currently there are nearly three pharmacies for every clinic or hospital. With pharmacies being more prevalent and having more services, this would further empower patients to take better control and exercise personal responsibility over their wellness. This is partly due to the convenience that it would offer to patients, especially those in rural areas, who may not have easy access to a hospital or clinic. One thing is certain. Impact Pharmacy will continue its push for advancement of patient centered care. The organization is result oriented and strives to make a change in the future that will help patients in Zimbabwe.