Entrepreneurial venture for hearing and swallowing disorders

Healthcare entrepreneurs are improving lives while running successful and profitable businesses.

By Fundiswa Nkwanyana

Innovative start-ups are using their skills and advanced technology to make healthcare services more accessible. Healthcare entrepreneurs like Malepane Lentsoane are improving lives while running a successful and profitable business. 

 

In October 2022, her business Khetho Healthcare worked together Chris Hani Baragwanath Cochlear Implant Group where an 8-month-old baby became their first youngest recipient of a cochlear implant. “My business did the initial assessment, diagnosis, hearing aid fitting and further applied for recipient to be on the cochlea implant list, “she said proudly.  

 

Business addressing hearing and swallowing disorders 

 

These disorders can lead to health issues and social problems when left unmanaged.  Lentsoane started Khetho Healthcare in 2012 and together with her team, they screen, assess, and manage hearing and swallowing disorders.  The business is also focused on empowering people with knowledge by offering training in hearing health and swallowing difficulties. 

 

After completing her studies, she worked for government’s health departments, the National Defence Force and in the mining sector. “While working in different sectors, I saw a gap for a business that is focused on hearing and swallowing disorders,” she said.  

 

Undiagnosed hearing disorders can affect the psychosocial, educational progress, productivity at work and overall quality of life. While undiagnosed swallowing disorders can lead to recurring lower respiratory tract infections, longer hospital stays, and ultimately death.

 

Early diagnosis and treatment of these disorders saves the healthcare systems costs from permanent disabilities, in hearing loss and frequent, prolonged hospital stays, in the case of swallowing disorders.

  

 

Collaborations and partnerships 

 

Healthcare entrepreneurs are transforming the sector by working together with government, private health sector, medical aid schemes and healthcare professionals.  They are passionate about delivering the best outcome for their patients and for this to happen, they need to form partnerships. 

 

From 2012 until 2018, Khetho Healthcare established and managed an early hearing loss and intervention program at Netcare Waterfall City Hospital’s maternity and neonatal units.

 

Over the years, the business rolled out the program at Life Carstenhof Hospital, Busamed Modderfontein Private Hospital and Lenmed Zamokuhle Private Hospital.  They also collaborated with a leading hearing technology company and a primary healthcare group to help bridge the resource gap in marginalised communities. 

 

However, sustainable and transformative partnerships are still lacking in the sector because it’s still difficult for emerging healthcare entrepreneurs to enter the sector. “I spent many years knocking on doors because legacy contracts don’t get renewed and this stops us from entering the sector”, she said. 

 

Khetho Health

 

Access to quality healthcare 

 

The World Health Organization estimated that by 2050, one in every ten people will have disabling hearing loss and that over 1 billion young adults are at risk of permanent, avoidable hearing loss due to unsafe listening practices. 

 

“I started this business because I want to improve people’s lives, to create employment and to use technology to help others,” she said. The Gauteng based business also services Limpopo, North West and Mpumalanga. The business’s objective is to reduce hearing and swallowing disabilities and provide quality healthcare to previously disadvantaged communities.   

 

Nowadays, healthcare entrepreneurs represent a new generation of innovative thinkers that are focused on inclusivity and transformation. They are using technology and collaborating to create positive health experiences for their patients.  

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