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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.

In the first six months over 300,000 people have already registered on M-TIBA. With more than 300 healthcare providers signed up in Nairobi and two other districts in Kenya the provision of care is growing rapidly as well.

M-TIBA in action

“Previously I never used to save for healthcare. Every time I got sick I would either stay home or maybe borrow from friends. I mostly use M-TIBA for my kids treatment. These days if my children show any symptoms, I bring them to hospital without any delay. M-TIBA has completely changed my life”

– Agnes Anyango, M-TIBA user

Latest news about mHealth

The Guardian: The mobile e-wallets bringing healthcare to Kenya's uninsured

“We thought: what if we could have a closed loop e-wallet where people could save for healthcare and also share healthcare funding,” says Nicole Spieker on the beginnings of M-TIBA.
Read more

May 19, 2017 in-the-media
NextBillion publishes blog on Medical Credit Fund and M-TIBA

NextBillion, which chronicles new trends in market solutions to poverty, published a blog by Prashant Yadav titled 'Two-Sided Mobile Platform Creates Network Effect to Help Patients, Health Clinics.' Read more

May 04, 2017 in-the-media
Mar 15, 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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