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Digital health

Digital technology as an accelerator

The future of access to healthcare is mobile

In most Western countries, solid solidarity mechanisms have been the foundation for our prosperity.  This solidarity took us over 100 years to build. Today, digital technology offers huge opportunities to bring healthcare within reach of people who, until now, were structurally excluded. And we can do it more efficiently and at an unprecedented pace.

The mobile phone is one of the biggest social equalizers on the continent. More than 90% of people use a simple mobile phone. This offers huge opportunities to develop new forms of pre-payment and risk pooling, and to tackle Africa’s poor health statistics.

Using a live test to implementation approach the mHealth lab, which has been experimenting with mobile solutions since 2013, has resulted in many viable healthcare solutions going from invent to full implementation.  Including M-TIBA.

M-TIBA: connecting patients, payers and providers

M-TIBA is a platform for financial inclusion in healthcare. It not only empowers consumers, but also improves financial protection, supports better quality of care and generates local and international financing for health.

M-TIBA enables people to save, send, receive and pay money for medical treatment through a mobile health wallet on their phone. It’s a closed loop with conditional funds that can only be spent on healthcare at selected providers.

M-TIBA is accelerating our mission to make health markets work by:

  • Boosting demand. It connects the poor, living in urban slums and rural areas, to savings schemes, benefits and risk pooling opportunities at very low costs. We are channeling demand to selected networks of healthcare providers.
  • Stimulating supply. Digital payments minimize leakages and enhance efficiency. We are also strengthening cost-efficiency of service delivery through mechanisms like joint procurement systems, access to finance or capacity building through e-learning.
  • Generating more funds for health. It’s increasing transparency and reducing risk and transaction costs, making it more attractive to invest in health. This helps to crowd in funding from solidarity payers like family members, employers, donors, or governments, who receive proof that their money is used for healthcare only.


Health payment platform CarePay

In order to actually put M-TIBA to use, PharmAccess and its partners realized the need for a solid, back-end infrastructure to facilitate payments and support a network of clinics where patients can utilize their wallets for treatment. This resulted in the launch of CarePay.

Initiated by PharmAccess, CarePay operates as an independent Kenyan company. It manages and provides the platform that powers M-TIBA. This platform can integrate with any prevalent digital payment system in a country, including banks, online payment systems and mobile money operators.


Lagos State mHealth pilot

Lagos State Government collaborates with PharmAccess on mobile health insurance pilot for the informal sector in Lagos.

The results and learnings from the past ten years in Kwara State have well-positioned PharmAccess to advise other states on introducing health insurance for their population. About eight states (including Lagos, Delta, Ekiti, and Cross River) are following the example of Kwara State of promoting financial inclusion for health by enacting a state health insurance law. Read more.


Reaching the most vulnerable at Gertrude’s Hospital

The Gertrude’s Hospital Foundation and PharmAccess are working together to deliver the Gertrude’s SMILES program on M-TIBA.

Public clinics are not available in the slums, while private clinics are not affordable to the very poor. To help address this situation, in April 2016 Gertrude’s Hospital Foundation launched the SMILES program on the M-TIBA mobile health wallet. The program enables Kenya’s most vulnerable people to access essential healthcare for free at a few of Gertrude’s private outreach clinics.

It enables people living in Nairobi’s slums to access free healthcare at 3 private outreach clinics and 1 mobile outreach clinic of Gertrude’s Children’s Hospital, as well as at 3 referral hospitals. The clinics are located in Nairobi’s Githogoro, Mathare, Kiambiu and Kosovo slums.

Latest news about mHealth

Impact of social protection interventions for basic healthcare provision

A policy brief written by PharmAccess, AIGHD, Amsterdam Institute for International Development (AIDD), Health Policy Plus and the African Population and Health Research Center presents the key findings from a two-year study comparing implementation and impact of two social protection interventions for basic healthcare provision. Read more

Nov 21, 2017 publication
Credit Bank and Medical Credit Fund partner to increase access to finance for Kenyan health sector

On 20 November 2017, Credit Bank and the Medical Credit Fund have announced a partnership that aims to increase access to better healthcare services in Kenya. The partnership benefits private healthcare institutions and accommodates access to technical assistance and affordable financial support with the aim of improving the quality of healthcare. Read more

Nov 21, 2017 in-the-media
Launch of Woman360 to accelerate entrepreneurship in healthcare in Ghana

Last week during a festive launch, Woman360, standing for exceptional maternal care always, was born. Woman360 is a franchise for high quality antenatal and delivery services. According to Dutch ambassador Ron Strikker “Woman360 creates the opportunity to meet the demand of the middle-income women who are willing to pay for better services for health, which improves overall health in Ghana.” Read more

Nov 02, 2017 in-the-media
Queen Máxima visits Lagos digital health insurance pilot

Her Majesty Queen Máxima of the Netherlands visited Nigeria this week in her capacity as the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development (UNSGSA). The main aim of the visit was to explore opportunities to accelerate Nigeria’s National Financial Inclusion Strategy. She also visited a private hospital where, upon the request of the Lagos State Government, PharmAccess and CarePay are piloting a digital health insurance program... Read more

Nov 01, 2017 news
Great Escape Documentary will be shown at Dutch Global Health Film Festival

Partner of PharmAccess, The Joep Lange Institute, is proud to present its documentary ‘The Great Escape’ at the first Dutch Global Health Film Festival that is taking place in Utrecht on Saturday October 28th. The London based initiative introduces the festival for the first time in the Netherlands to bring together people with interest in global health to think, discuss and debate about global health related issues. The Great Escape is a short documentary how to reach social equity in healthcare in Africa by using mobile technology.

Read more

Oct 25, 2017 news

mHealth briefs

The PharmAccess Research briefs provide an overview, insights and background on several projects, or subject areas usually dealt with in long form researches conducted by PharmAccess and our partners.

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mHealth lab

invent | experiment | implement

Technology is advancing at an exponential rate, but our society has not succeeded in harnessing its full potential to make it work for those that need it the most. We believe that if it is adapted right, mobile technology plays a key role in improving access to quality and affordable healthcare for millions of citizens across the globe.

The mHealth Lab has positioned itself on the African continent as a live testing ground where innovations in mobile technology and healthcare financing complemented by insights from behavioral economics are brought right to the fingertips of the end users.

At the mHealth Lab we constantly generate new concepts (invent), test these concepts directly with users and optimize them to ensure their viability (experiment). Once proof of principle has been achieved, these viable healthcare solutions can be adapted in a myriad of settings (implement).

In collaboration with other frontrunners and experts we believe that we can play a significant role in the realization of African health systems that work for everyone.


Each (disruptive) innovation starts with an idea that needs to be validated and fine-tuned before it can reach scale and sustainable impact. In the lab develop and test ideas using mobile technology that strengthen and accelerate PharmAccess integrated approach on both the demand and supply side of healthcare. This is our flow from idea to full scale implementation:


Watch the most recent lab update on a test in the slums of Nairobi to move towards “cashless clinics”.

Interested in working with us or learning more about our mHealth activities?

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1105 BP Amsterdam • The Netherlands

T: +31 (0) 20 – 210 3920