Innovative mobile solutions linking health and identity for better service delivery

The mobile industry has shown its commitment to supporting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), while the ubiquity of mobile devices has enabled mobile technology to play an important role in the delivery of services aimed at achieving those goals.[1]  SDG 3 aims to “ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages”,[2] yet according to the World Health Organisation, at least half of the world’s population still lacks access to essential health services, with almost 100 million people annually pushed into extreme poverty due to out-of-pocket health expenses.[3]  The World Bank Identification for Development (ID4D) programme highlighted in a recent report that access to digital identification is crucial to the efficient and effective delivery of health services.[4]  However, worldwide an estimated one billion people are unable to access proof of identity,[5] making it difficult for them to access financial aid, prove their eligibility for treatment and to be accounted for in governments healthcare planning.[6]

In this case study we will explore four innovative mobile-enabled health solutions in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, which have been developed to use mobile technology to identify patients to create unique digital health identities to allow for improvements in service delivery and in some cases identify new patients for treatment:

  • Element have used Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Deap Learning to develop a biometric solution for healthcare providers to identify and register patients, including infants, that works simply with the inbuilt camera on a mobile device.
  • Kea Medicals in Benin have developed a hospital information system that creates Universal Medical Identities that are then linked to a mobile scannable QR code, to allow access to a patient’s medical history.
  • Dialog Sri Lanka have developed a mobile-enabled doctor channelling service that provides an integrated solution to both participating hospitals and prospective patients, improving the booking process for both, and allowing patients to use their mobile devices to create a health profile, book appointments, access remote consultations and lab reports.
  • Vodacom Lesotho’s HIV Testing & Treatment initiative developed a mobile application to register and monitor patients, and additionally allowed them to receive financial support via mobile money to cover the transportation costs associated with accessing treatment.

The case studies highlighted in this report demonstrate how mobile technology can be leveraged to establish health identities for the underserved, and ultimately create healthcare efficiencies and improvements that benefit individual patients, households, health workers, and health systems. Digital identity services will only reach full scale if they can create value in sustainable ways, including for mobile operators. Early evidence suggests that these platforms provide MNOs with opportunities to offer new services, either through in-house development or collaboration with new partners, to enhance market share and reduce churn, while at the same time increasing brand value, loyalty and revenue.

Download the case study 

[1] See
[2] See
[3] World Health Organization and World Bank (2017). ‘Tracking universal health coverage: 2017 global monitoring report’, Page V. Available at:
[4] World Bank (2018). ‘The Role of Digital Identification for Healthcare: The Emerging Use Cases’. Available at:
[6] World Bank (2018). ‘The Role of Digital Identification for Healthcare: The Emerging Use Cases’. Available at:

This initiative is currently funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID), and supported by the GSMA and its members.
Donor logos

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.