Promising Linkages between Mobile Health and Mobile Financial Services Can Boost Access to Healthcare in Poor Countries
WASHINGTON, DC(February 11, 2011)-The mHealth Alliance (mHA) and the World Economic Forum released a pivotal paper today identifying key linkages between mobile financial services and mobile health that could ultimately establish a more robust system to help pull people out of poverty.
The paper, Amplifying the Impact: Examining the Intersection of Mobile Health and Mobile Finance, identified ways in which the mobile communications platform could be leveraged to strengthen financial inclusion and improve health outcomes in developing countries. The topic was discussed during the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting recently held in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland and will also be highlighted at the upcoming Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in mid-February.
"One of the most promising opportunities for positive socioeconomic change lies in the mutually supportive scaling of mobile health and mobile financial services," said William Hoffman, Head of Telecommunications Industry at the World Economic Forum.
The World Health Organization (WHO) cites inadequate healthcare financing as one of the greatest challenges to improving health outcomes for the poor. According to the report, more people now have access to mobile phones than to clean water or the electrical grid, placing the mobile platform in a unique position as a catalyst for accelerating positive change.
The paper identifies common building blocks between mobile health and mobile financial services-such as similar technology platforms, business operations and models, and policy concerns-to highlight innovative and cost-efficient solutions for both services. For example, healthcare providers in developing countries often face the challenge of paying unbanked and remote healthcare workers in a timely and safe manner. Workers may need to walk to other localities to pick up cash when they are paid, time that could be better spent serving patients. With mobile financial services, employers can pay a remote worker automatically into his or her mobile financing savings account, reducing unnecessary travel for the healthcare worker as well as the potential for fraud.
The paper also takes a close look at the area of maternal health where the synergies are most promising. When mobile finance and mobile health services are offered together, maternal mortality rates can be improved. Mobile financial services can provide patients the option of direct payment, co-payment, or third-party settlement for all healthcare services associated with birth, from ambulatory transport to hospital care. Voucher-based or direct mobile payments for immunizations can make it easier for more children to receive vaccinations without cash on hand. New efficiencies can be unlocked throughout the health delivery value chain.
"There is a particularly exciting linkage between mHealth and mobile financial services in maternal health," added David Aylward, Executive Director of the mHealth Alliance. "Mobile financial services can support maternal care at the patient, provider, and administrative levels. We appreciate the leadership of the World Economic Forum on this important issue, and the excellent work of our expert Menekse Gencer on the paper."
About the mHealth Alliance
The mHealth Alliance (mHA) mobilizes innovation to deliver quality health at the furthest reaches of wireless networks and mobile devices. Working with diverse partners, the mHA advances mHealth through research, advocacy, and support for the development of interoperable solutions and sustainable deployment models. The mHA sponsors innovation challenges and conferences, leads cross-sector mHealth initiatives, and hosts HUB (HealthUnBound), a global online community for resource sharing and collaborative solution generation. Hosted by the United Nations Foundation, and founded by the UN, Rockefeller, and Vodafone Foundations, the mHA now also includes PEPFAR, HP, and the GSM Association among its founding partners. (www.mhealthalliance.org)
About the World Economic Forum
The World Economic Forum is an independent international organization committed to improving the state of the world by engaging business, political, academic and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas. Incorporated as a not-for-profit foundation in 1971 and headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, the Forum is tied to no political, partisan or national interests (www.weforum.org).
Megan Dold,[email protected], +1 708 220 8879
World Economic Forum
Kai Bucher, [email protected]+1 212 703 2377