HBI Awards 2017: Connecting sub-Saharan Africa to better healthcare through mobile technology

The PharmAccess Group is Dutch NGO with a digital agenda dedicated to connecting more people to better healthcare in sub-Saharan Africa. It focuses on innovations to serve patients and doctors through mobile technology, loans to doctors, health insurance, clinical standards and impact research.

M-TIBA is a service on your mobile phone that allows anyone to send, save and spend funds specifically for medical treatment. Money stored in M-TIBA can only be used to pay for treatment and medication at partner clinics and hospitals. M-TIBA markets the facility to the community through agents and empowers the patients to pay for healthcare thus increasing the clinics’ revenues. The digitalization of the transactions also helps to create more transparency.

It was a finalist because the M-TIBA solution is unique, claims 250,000 users and incremental increase in revenue. It connects patients and providers, remitters and employers, as well as governments, insurers and donors onto one platform.

Full application

1. Briefly describe the organisation giving the number of facilities, staff, revenue numbers.

The PharmAccess Group is a dynamic international organisation with a digital agenda dedicated to connecting more people to better healthcare in sub-Saharan Africa. The unprecedented rise of mobile technology is transforming sub-Saharan African economies. The PharmAccess Group believes that digitalization has the potential to revolutionise health care in Africa.

We focus on innovations to serve patients and doctors through mobile technology, loans to doctors, health insurance, clinical standards and impact research. We work closely with leading local and international partners to leverage donor contributions to increase trust throughout the health system, reduce risks, and pave the way for investments. With over 60 percent of staff based in our offices in Kenya, Tanzania, Nigeria and Ghana, we are firmly rooted in Africa.

Our specific approach to development attracts international attention, including a G20 prize for innovative financing presented by President Obama, the Dutch National Postcode Lottery’s prestigious “Dreamfund” grant competition and two Financial Times/IFC essay awards. PharmAccess does not own facilities but works with over 1900 (primary) health care facilities that between them have 2.2 million patient visits per month. Through the Medical Credit Fund, we have provided over 1030 loans for a total of USD 20 million to health care facilities.

2. Please describe the patient platform. What precisely does it enable the patient to do?

M-TIBA is unique since it connects patients and providers, remitters and employers, as well as governments, insurers, donors and other (institutional) stakeholders onto one platform. For every (group of) stakeholders the platform brings reduced transaction costs, increased transparency, near real-time actionable and benchmark data that none of these parties had before.

Advantages for patients

On the patient (client) side, the “mHealth Wallet” of M-TIBA started at the launch with savings scheme with a financial top-up to stimulate the savings behavior of the clients. Apart from the extra money in the form of top-ups the advantages for the clients are the security of the mHealth Wallet (cannot be stolen from) and the fact that the amounts paid in to the mHealth Wallet are reserved for health and cannot be used for other purposes. In combination with increased transparency this greatly enhances the trust in the system, stimulates a savings (pre-payment) culture and thus protects people from sudden, ruinous expenses. Increased trust will stimulate solidarity payers and institutional payers to disburse money to patients and thus pave the way for insurance and other forms of risk pooling for health.

Advantages for healthcare facilities

M-TIBA membership brings several advantages to the healthcare facilities. First and foremost, M-TIBA markets the facility to the community through agents and empowers the patients to pay for healthcare thus increasing the clinics’ revenues. Moreover, these paying clients will pay digitally and reimbursements will happen without the traditional delays of an insurance product, which represents an important reduction of the clinic’s costs, increase of revenue and expansion of (digital) health services. The digitalization of the transactions also helps to create more transparency in their bookkeeping, enhances liquidity and helps to combat funds leakage.

Advantages for other payers

For traditional, institutional payers M-TIBA offers new, innovative opportunities to mobilize public and private resources directly to the individual beneficiary, whereby the “payer” can define its own terms against very low marginal costs. This assures the payers that their money is used for healthcare only, in the most effective and efficient way.

M-Pesa is the most trusted brand in Kenya – the fact that M-TIBA builds on this mobile money platform has made a huge difference. Building on the local marketing campaign that has been developed during 2016, PharmAccess is now testing new models of saving and benefits distribution like electronic vouchers, specific benefits packages and their impact on people’s health seeking behavior. These new products will offer new (or more efficient) mechanisms to payers such as donors, governments, insurers and employers.

Advantages for society

Mobile health enables us to reach people who, until now, were often left behind. Digitalization has a high impact on the health chain as a whole: it will make healthcare more transparent, more efficient and, ultimately, inclusive.

3. When was the service first launched?

Month: April
Year: 2016

4. When did the quality data model start affecting service delivery?

Month : March
Year : 2015

5. What impact has the platform had on your business?

How many users have signed up for the service?

250.000 users. On average, 2000-3000 new clients subscribe every day.
How many have subsequently become active users) (We would expect this to be a small percentage of the sign ups). Please define what exactly you mean by an active user.
The connected clinics currently generate between 5.000 and 6.000 transactions (medical claims) per month

Have you a net promoter score for the service from active users? If so, what is it?

No.

Has it led to any incremental increase in revenue? If so, how can you best quantify this?

970.000 USD medical payout to date. Currently, about 60.000 to 70.000 USD medical costs are transiting each month as claims transactions in the M-TIBA system.

 

We would welcome your thoughts on this story. Email your views to Daisy Hotopf or call 0207 183 3779.