Business

Quisk/AIS partnership focusing on privately owned pharmacies

BY BALFORD HENRY Senior staff reporter balfordh@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, April 23, 2017    

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Jamaica’s medium, small and micro pharmacies are facing a serious threat to their survival as technology spreads across the sector.

But, Advanced Integrated Systems (AIS), a Jamaican IT solutions company, believes that there is an electronic hope for survival through its telemedicine prospects.

The prospects were outlined to members of the Jamaica Association of Private Pharmacy Owners (JAPPO) at their inaugural business conference at the Jamaica Pegasus, New Kingston, earlier this month, April 9.

AIS has teamed with Silicon Valley-based start-up, Quisk, which partners with financial institutions, and other organisations, to enable anyone to use their money without needing cash or cards.


Quisk provides a digital services and transaction processing platform for integrated mobile payments and digital marketing and loyalty programmes. Deploying cloud-based technology, the Quisk digital cash solution not only works with any mobile phone number on any type of mobile phone, but also can leverage existing Point-of-Sale (POS) infrastructure.

The company, by digitising physical cash, creates a new wave of economic participation for all and, in the process, provides “safe, simple and secure financial services and cash-less transactions for anyone with a mobile phone number”, including customers of Jamaica’s main banks.

In cooperation with AIS, the California firm has now made available to Jamaicans a system to make everyday purchases, and to send and receive money with their mobile phones at select locations and participating merchants islandwide, thanks to their partnership with National Commercial Bank Jamaica Ltd (NCB).

The solution, dubbed NCB Quisk, is a secure, mobile money account that will enable people to send and receive monies and pay via text messaging. The solution is compatible with cellphones that have SMS capabilities – no smartphone, internet access or apps are required — and it is secured with a six-digit PIN that must be entered to access personal accounts.

The government is also working with the Quisk/AIS team to reduce the time required for the conditional cash transfer social security initiative, Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH), funded by the Government of Jamaica and the World Bank, to reduce the amount of time beneficiaries have to wait for their benefits.

The programme delivers benefits by way of cash grants to the most needy and vulnerable in the society. PATH has been seeking to rationalise the operation of existing income transfer programmes, to eliminate duplication, reduce administrative costs, streamline the use of resources, and increase the effectiveness of programme delivery to the poor.

The National Health Fund (NHF), for example, has been using electronic services for their individual benefits programme for years. Patients go to a pharmacy and can swipe their cards to get a drug subsidy, because the technology has allowed for this seamless process.

But, according to AIS CEO, Doug Halsall, there is a lot more that the collaboration between AIS and Quisk could do for businesses in Jamaica, including making telemedicine available to the wider health sector, especially the pharmacies.

Halsall, and his team from AIS, including Director of Health Applications, Shekar Sanumpudi, believe that the country is ripe to increase the use of technology to make health care more accessible, more efficient, more convenient and less expensive.

“The opportunities are endless. And, using the right technology, Jamaica can now pave the way for a comprehensive National Health Insurance Scheme. We can have our own version ‘Jamaica-care’ to ensure that when it comes to health no one is left behind,” he said.

“But, without an engagement platform such as Quisk, e-commerce and some of the things that we are going to show you could not be fully exploited,” he told the pharmacists.

“When the pharmacist can go online and ensure that the patient’s medication is in order and gets an alert when something is amiss, it is the technology that has facilitated that process, too,” Halsall points out.

He says, Quisk and AIS are moving even further beyond that, and expanding to several other important services.

The University Hospital of the West Indies, for example, has already begun to implement the Hospital Information Management System, which will see its entire operation, from admission to discharge, placed on an electronic platform.

Public sector hospitals and health centres may need to quickly follow suit to ensure an improved and more effective customer experience.

“Imagine being able to attend any facility across the island and your information is readily and easily accessible by your doctor. This is not a dream; it is happening and it can happen now,” Halsall said.

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