Mobile payment tech spurs faster global healthcare services

Mobile digital payment technology is not only changing healthcare delivery on a global front, it's fostering greater access to services and enabling more cost-effective healthcare for patients and providers, as illustrated by three real-world scenarios reported on by The Guardian.

The Guardian report features different examples of how mobile payment is transforming medical processes, treatment and services. For example, in Tanzania a rehabilitation hospital is using mobile tech to transfer funds to local health workers who then help female patients attain transportation to the hospital for treatment of obstetric fistula.

Transportation is one of the biggest barriers for those women seeking care, Erwin Telemans, chief executive of Comprehensive Community Based Rehabilitation hospital in Tanzania, said in the article.

Payment is one of four critical dimensions (along with people, places and purpose) necessary to drive mHealth to its full potential, according to a recent Deloitte report, which defines payment' as "the quest to find more efficient ways to improve care while increasing quality." Deloitte Senior Advisor Harry Greenspun tags payment it as the biggest hurdle of the four.

"Lots of excellent technologies that could improve access or value have failed to get widely adopted because they did not align with our payment system," he told FierceMobileHealthcare.

Another example of payment technology mentioned in The Guardian article is a social-based mobile payment provider in Pakistan, which provides a cost-effective insurance option for companies, which means workers who once had no insurance now have access. The next goal is a smart-card system via a mobile banking platform and a digital prescription option all of which will help speed medical services while keeping insurance costs low.

The Guardian cites a 2013 USAid report that reveals public health processes are closely tied to cash payment processes, from health worker pay to pharmacy purchases.

"Yet it is becoming increasingly apparent that digital payments in rural, remote areas settings are quicker, easier, and safer. The likelihood of fraud drops as fewer hands are needed to transfer the money. And the transaction costs decline, making it cheaper for providers to reach rural populations," according to the article.

The U.S. is also embracing mobile payment for healthcare. Aspen Valley Hospital in Colorado is streamlining patient payment processes using a mobile application that lets patients pay a bill from bedside discharge to emergency room environments and provides the hospital with real-time assessment of payment operations.

For more information:
- read the The Guardian article  

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