Nelson Igbiriki is the CEO and founder of Medtech Africa. He is a biomedical engineer with 8 years of industry experience in cardiology, radiology, and oncology care, with extensive work on medical device installation, implementation designs, and consultation, with a focus on Nigeria and sub-Saharan countries.
Explain your job to a five-year-old
I work with a team that uses technology to solve medical issues, and my job involves making decisions that are sometimes pleasant and frequently not so pleasant. I spend my time looking for ways technology can make it easier for those dealing with life-long health issues to recover faster and help doctors better understand their patients’ conditions.
What’s one piece of advice you wish you had earlier in your career/life?
Calvary is probably never going to come by waiting for the perfect opportunity, and overthinking steals the fun. Try new things and embrace failure as a journey.
What’s the biggest misconception people have about your job?
Most people still believe that working in medical technology, or rather biomedical engineering involves fixing patient beds, maintaining hospital equipment and sitting in offices.
Medical engineers use their understanding of engineering and medicine to conduct research and create cutting-edge treatments for medical issues. This is an intriguing profession that uses engineering expertise to develop medical tools, machinery, and procedures to treat, cure, or otherwise improve health conditions, saving lives in the process.
What’s the most exciting innovation to come out of African healthtech in the past decade?
The digitization of healthcare processes and telemedicine. I believe COVID-19 played a great part in opening people’s eyes to how technology can improve the way we get medical care as well as take care of our health.
Is tech the solution to medical innovation for Africans, given that so many Africans don’t have access to basic digital infrastructures or live in places where this isn’t sustainable?
A combination of technology and traditional methods of care is the best innovation for Africa.
People in Africa trust an institution and a doctor they can see better than a new standalone or cutting-edge virtual care. I believe we are in the transition phase, where we are seeing a large adoption of technology by physicians and health workers, and that’s good. For instance, data technology is greatly improving how data is captured in communities for research and also democratizing global standards of care to local villages via telemedicine.
Hopefully, in the next couple of years, things will change. In the end, technology will win because the growing adoption of mobile technology will greatly impact the way we receive care in Africa.
What are the most critical problems you’re solving at Medtech Africa?
For healthcare, data is life. It is literally the difference between life and death.
Access to reliable patient data through testing and continuous monitoring is the first step to beating any chronic disease.
What we do at Medtech Africa is enable access to patient data and provide timely, essential information for managing chronic diseases like hypertension, diabetes, stroke, and heart failure.
We empower caregivers and health institutions with digital tools to address the full spectrum of chronic care. We have easy access to reliable patient data from any heart monitoring devices to enable data-driven care and assist in early detection, treatment planning, monitoring, and care throughout the lifetime of patients.
Apple or Android? And why?
Apple. When you join the Apple user community, there is no turning back! The well-integrated interoperabilities between my iPhone and Mac are what I love most about Apple. Being able to easily pick up whatever I was doing with my phone on my Mac is the second-best thing I love about Apple (after the copy-and-paste feature from iPhone to Mac).
What’s something you’re good at but dislike doing? and something you’re bad at but love doing?
Although I am an excellent cyclist, I can’t recall the last time I rode a bicycle.
I’m not good at singing, to name a few things. I enjoy singing and listening to music, and I listen to music for about four hours every day.
If you could be one Marvel, DC, or anime character, who would it be and why?
Unfortunately, I am not a big fan of anime, Marvel, or DC movies. I never loved them; I tried watching several of them but never finished any except Black Panther. If I could be a Marvel character, I would be T’chala, because he and the Black Panther franchise appeal more to black history. We rarely get to see black superheroes.