UPDATE | Digital counseling & telemedicine in East Africa

How are digital counseling and telemedicine services evolving in East Africa?


Telemedicine services have been expanding over the past decade, and the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated this trend: in the US alone, telemedicine visits in March 2020 increased 154% compared to 2019.[1] In African contexts, where many countries have under-resourced and fragmented health systems, telemedicine – which aims to offer convenience and efficiency for both providers and patients – may alleviate the burden on providers and make health care more accessible.

To understand how telemedicine is evolving in East Africa, Salient undertook a rapid landscaping of telemedicine and digital counseling companies in Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. Our latest discussion document, Digital Counseling and Telemedicine in Africa: Companies, Emerging Trends & Opportunities, summarizes data from 26 companies and examines current trends and exciting opportunities.



Major insights include:

  • Companies are innovating towards more comprehensive and seamless user journeys, often by developing hybrid physical-digital models.
  • Telehealth services are delivered through a range of modalities, including voice, SMS, applications, video, and social platforms. The use of USSD (important for accessibility) is rare.
  • The value proposition of many of the digital counseling and telemedicine companies is predicated on driving efficiencies in care for patients and providers, but rigorous measurement has not been completed.


The impact of telemedicine at scale will depend on a variety of factors, including buy-in from governments and donors, changes in government regulation, consumer trust, and the ability of health tech innovators to reach vulnerable groups.

To learn more, explore our findings in the discussion document and look through our innovator directory to discover other exciting health tech start-ups in Africa. If you have questions about the health tech innovations in emerging markets, don’t hesitate to get in touch.




1. Koonin, L. M., Hoots, B., Tsang, C. A., Leroy, Z., Farris, K., Jolly, B. T., Antall, P., McCabe, B., Zellis, C. B. R., Tong, I., & Harris, A. M. (2020, October 30). Trends in the use of telehealth during the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic – United States, January–March 2020. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved December 7, 2021, from https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/vol- umes/69/wr/mm6943a3.html


  • Vaidehi NafadeSalient Advisory
  • Francis OlatoyeSalient Advisory
  • Malyse UwaseSalient Advisory
  • Pulkit AggrwalIndependent


This report has been viewed 589 times.


New models to deliver health information, products, services and financing are desperately needed globally, especially for equity-seeking populations. As a healthcare consulting firm, we co-develop actionable insights and partnerships, supporting global changemakers to advance outcomes and equity.


Subscribe to our

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.