Young Entrepreneurs Awards: Daniel Yu

Daniel Yu is the founder of Reliefwatch which provides simple software to help medical clinics operated by multinational NGOs in the developing world to digitise and manage inventory records via automated voice calls from feature phones.

Improving health care through technology

Daniel Yu, Unilever Young Entrepreneur Award winner

Health centres in developing countries do not typically have computers or internet access to track inventory and diseases. Of the 1 million health centres in the developing world, around 40% regularly run out of key medical supplies, rendering treatment ineffective and affecting billions of dollars of medical aid every year.
Reliefwatch, founded by Daniel Yu in 2013, is a start-up that helps health centres that are part of multinational NGOs’ networks and do not have internet access to digitise their inventories using basic mobile phones.

While in a remote Egyptian town in 2012, Daniel saw first hand the problem of out-of stock and expired medications and the impact on patients. While the health centres Daniel saw had no computer or internet access and no digitised records, every person in the centre as well as the vast majority of people the centres served had a mobile phone.

Applying his experience as a web developer, Daniel assembled a team to build a medical inventory system that could be integrated with basic mobile phones. In January, 2013 he took a leave of absence from the University of Chicago to work full time on Reliefwatch.

Making medicine monitoring easier

Using Reliefwatch, each health centre in a multinational NGO’s health system is registered along with each warehouse. Health workers receive automated voice calls every two days that allow them to update the amount of each drug in stock via the keys on their phone. This data is passed from the telecoms network into an internet gateway connected to a cloud database back-end, which automatically updates information on the health centre’s inventory.

Warehouse managers can log in through Reliefwatch’s web platform and view the updated information, while also logging transfers to and from clinics and monitoring stock levels and expirations. Finally, administrators at the multinational NGO can use Reliefwatch to view overall aggregated statistics about their organisation.

Reliefwatch’s first partnership with Global Brigades – the student-led not-for-profit organisation – launched in May 2014 and was rolled out across their entire operations in Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama. So far the partnership has resulted in a 90% reduction in drug expiry, 70% reduction in man-hours and 8.9 million units of medicine digitised.