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Mobile 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.

Real-time data and individual empowerment

In April 2016, Gertrude’s Hospital Foundation launched the SMILES outreach program on M-TIBA. Originated as HIV/TB program, it now enables people in Nairobi’s slums to access a wide range of essential healthcare services for free at Gertrude’s private outreach clinics and referral hospitals.

People receive entitlements on their phone, empowering them to seek care when they need it. The program also provides patients, providers and payers with invaluable insights to improve efficiency and quality.

Through a patient journey tracker, we are gathering automatically generated, real-time data on health-seeking behavior, costs and efficiency of care, adherence to treatment guidelines and the medical consequences thereof. We can alert doctors, for example if they’ve prescribed drugs without performing the right test first, or send an SMS reminder to patients if they miss their ARVs pick-up.

Such insights in the quality and costs of care delivered are helping to pave the way for value-based healthcare models in low and middle income countries.

Lagos State mobile health 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.


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.


Latest news on mobile health

New PhD research on Pioneering Public Private Partnerships in the Health sector in Namibia

On Tuesday 19th of December, Ingrid de Beer defended her PhD thesis ‘Engaging the private sector in public health challenges in Namibia’ at the Agnietenkapel in Amsterdam. The studies included were a result of operational and original research conducted on PharmAccess Foundation Namibia programs over a period of 12 years. Read more

Jan 18, 2018 news
New frontiers in Africa’s digital potential: M-TIBA featured in Foresight Africa 2018 report.

M-TIBA is featured in the new Brookings Instutition annual Foresight Africa Report. The report describes how digitization is transforming African economies. Read more

Jan 17, 2018 in-the-media
Access to better healthcare in Africa: New findings from research on PharmAccess supported programs

Last month saw the official release of the comprehensive impact report entitled: Access to better healthcare in Africa: New findings from research on PharmAccess supported programs. The impact research, conducted by the Amsterdam Institute for Global Health and Development (AIGHD), the Amsterdam Institute for International Development (AIID) and its partners in Kenya, Tanzania and Nigeria, offers extensive insight into the results of the programs. Read more

Jan 02, 2018 news
Watch: the Great Escape: digital disruption for social equity

Africa is at a crossroads. Mobile technology is disrupting every layer of society at an unprecedented pace. “The biggest social equalizer now in this part of the world, I believe is a cell phone,” explains Dr. Khama Rogo, Head of Health in Africa Initiative, IFC/World Bank Group in the documentary titled The Great Escape. The documentary was made for the Joep Lange Institute.
Read more

Dec 20, 2017 video
Health Management Program Commences in Nigeria

PharmAccess Foundation and Enterprise Development Centre (EDC) partnered to develop the Health Management Program (HMP) to build the capacity of healthcare professionals in the key areas of quality, business, finance and inventory management. The HMP is a Certificate Program for Healthcare Professionals in Nigeria and West Africa. The enterprise development center (EDC) is the entrepreneurship center of the Pan-Atlantic University (PAU) and has the mission of providing holistic business development and support services to small and medium enterprises in Nigeria. Read more

Dec 19, 2017 news

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

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