The following is a guest post by Trevor Lewis, who works on the Center for Health Market Innovations (CHMI), an initiative of the Results for Development Institute.
In many emerging economies, the world’s poor seek healthcare in a marketplace that bears little resemblance to a coherent system. Unsure of where to seek proper treatment or unable to pay, patients often go to a doctor of suspect quality, self-diagnose and medicate, or skip treatment altogether.
To tackle these deeply ingrained problems in health systems, innovators around the world are experimenting with new solutions that help consumers to access appropriate treatment. Earlier this year, Safaricom and ‘Call-a-Doc’ partnered in Kenya to launch Daktari 1525, a hotline service providing phone-based health consultations from registered medical doctors. The service offers information and advice, as well as facility referrals for appropriate diagnoses or prescriptions. Daktari 1525 represents just one of many solutions being employed to create more informed consumers in the health market.
In Highlights: 2012, the Center for Health Market Innovations (CHMI) identifies a number of these new trends in solutions that are being applied to improve the quality, affordability and accessibility of healthcare for the poorest and most vulnerable. Although also looking at innovations outside of mHealth, the report shows that innovators are increasingly experimenting with information technology to achieve these goals.
Some mHealth highlights from the report include:
- The identification of 5 key mHealth interventions that are working to improve maternal and child health, including Changamka Microhealth Ltd., which uses mobile money systems in Kenya to help women steadily save money to pay for quality antenatal, maternity, and postnatal health services.
- An analysis of over 170 eHealth programs (including many mHealth programs), which surfaced some of the key goals of eHealth deployments, such as extending geographic access to healthcare (e.g. through telemedicine systems or call centers).
- A number of barriers that remain to effectively using information technology to improve health care. Among other barriers, program managers who were interviewed identified end-user acceptance of a given technology as a key challenge to successful implementation.
- Details on CHMI’s Reported Results Initiative, which collects clear, quantifiable, and self-reported measures of program performance across several key dimensions such as affordability, efficiency, clinical quality, and health outcomes. MedicallHome, which offers hotline-based health services to over five million subscribers in Mexico, reports that by referring patients to the appropriate level of care, the company saves patients US$19.7 million each year.
Learn more about new practices in health markets around the world in Highlights: 2012. Visit HealthMarketInnovations.org to download the report and see photos of more than 15 of the world’s most innovative health models.