Can This New Trend Change the Way We Access Healthcare?
Thursday, September 24, 2015
A recent report by the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that nearly 100 million people are “pushed into poverty” trying to access basic health care services. The crisis has forced 80 countries to ask the WHO for technical assistance to shift toward Universal Health Coverage (UHC). Since governments are struggling to provide basic health services, and private health care providers remain too expensive to access, citizens in the developing world are caught in a financial trap. However, a new movement in health care innovation is now challenging the status quo.
Social enterprises are leveraging previously underutilized resources, such as cheap technology, to improve health care delivery and bridge the growing gap in health care access. From health insurance to outpatient care, these enterprises are interacting directly with people to meet the demand for quality health care. In fact, this new trend has grown so successfully that the private sector is beginning to take note; a few companies like Boehringer-Ingelheim are already shifting their focus to “co-creating solutions“ by harnessing the power of business and social innovation.
Tapping into resources efficiently
The rapid growth of affordable technology has complemented the democratization of health care. Mobile phone ownership in countries like India, Kenya and Liberia has made it possible for innovators like Kenya-based social enterprise Changamka Micro Health Ltd (CMH) to make health insurance available on a massive scale. CMH’s “micro-insurance model” pairs mobile phones with health insurance smart cards, which are loaded with money, and used as flexible savings accounts. Citizens can use these cards to access any participating health center within the CMH network. The organization is working on increasing its customer base by making these cards available in grocery stores across the country through a partnership with Safaricom, one of Kenya’s leading mobile network operators.
Other social enterprises are thinking beyond the doctor-patient dynamic by empowering patients to participate in their own well-being. Noora Health, based in India, is tapping into another underutilized resource — the families of patients — and equipping them to play a pivotal role in the caregiving process. While a patient is recovering at the hospital, the organization provides his or her family members an iPad app that has a combination of videos, quizzes and interactive content to teach them the skills they need to aid the recovery of their loved one at home.
- Health Care