Healthcare is a universal need that presents both a challenge and opportunity. Many have taken a swipe at it, trying to provide affordable cover to the masses. Finding the perfect blend of service and cost has proven difficult even with the use of technology. Safaricom was most visible with their Linda Jamii product, which while solid in most ways, failed to pick as expected sending them and their consortium of partners back to the drawing board. I have been part of the Health Advisory Panel at Safaricom for a little over a year now and have had a front row seat on the service permutations and models in a bid to get to a sustainable healthcare services nirvana at scale.
The output of this continuous product review and stakeholder engagement following the poor performance of the Linda Jamii product, and taking a different tangent on the same problem is M-Tiba which Safaricom has launched in collaboration with CarePay and PharmAccess. M-Tiba is a health payment platform that aims to deepen the ability of Kenyans to access healthcare.
The M-Tiba platform provides a dedicated M-Pesa based wallet that channels donor funds meant for health services directly to recipients. The wallet can only be used at licensed healthcare providers and pharmacies preventing abuse and leakage from repurposing of the funds whilst providing effective tracking and monitoring.
M-Tiba has been on trial for the last nine months at 44 clinics in Nairobi reaching 10,000 beneficiaries. In future, M-Tiba will be linked to all 23 million Mpesa customers and grow to include value adds such as savings and insurance.
To manage the health wallet payments and connect healthcare providers to M-Tiba, an independent company CarePay has been set up to provide real-time insights to the costs and services provided. The coding talent behind the platform is largely local, a further testament to the quality of our human resource pool. M-Tiba brings transparency and accountability for all stakeholders in the health sectors by taking out inefficiencies in the system. For users having health benefits such as an insurance cover or vouchers stored on the phones, it gives them the peace of mind that they can pay, and allows them to choose the healthcare provider of choice. Healthcare providers receive more paying customers and are paid without delay. This improves the cash-flow and reduces the transaction costs and leaves room for them to invest in quality. While donors, governments and insurers can have full transparency on the use of their funds, and can reach their target beneficiaries in a direct, efficient and effective way.
Pfizer Foundation is onboard as the first donor partner, funding an M-Tiba program for people living in the slums of Nairobi. PharmAccess is promoting public-private partnerships, to turn the goal of inclusive healthcare for all into a reality. The power of a nation is measured by its people and health is at the center of that economic engine. Here is to hoping that the second time’s the charm.