By Mark Kawalya.
One of the greatest social equalizers in Africa is the mobile phone. The device, in its simplest form, is owned by at least 90% of the people on the continent. Mobile technology is gradually influencing healthcare in Africa in ways that many have not fully imagined.
In Kenya, CarePay, a phone-based service that integrates various stakeholders in the healthcare industry under one platform, is revolutionizing the industry. Participants, payers and healthcare providers send, receive, and pay healthcare funds instantly and at reduced costs.
Participants are able to pay their insurance premiums and save funds to cover future healthcare needs at a click of a button. CarePay hosts different healthcare service providers like hospitals and clinics, payers like private insurers, along with health schemes and donors.
A patient that needs treatment simply dials into the CarePay system using their mobile phone and selects the health scheme and location of the hospital they wish to visit. The healthcare provider treats the patient and digitally submits a claim using CarePay to the patient’s insurer or donor, who authorizes payment after reviewing the information.
“CarePay allows me to save for my mother’s medical bills in advance,” says Robert Murithi, who lives and works in Nairobi. “I have used the service to clear her hospital bills in Mombasa, where she currently stays.” CarePays’ success is attributed to its ability to integrate all stakeholders into one platform and the ease of access the service provides.
The service was launched in 2015 with initial funding from the M-Pesa Foundation (a popular mobile payments system operated by Safaricom Kenya’s largest telecom service provider.) Utilising the mobile money revolution in Kenya, CarePay partnered with Pharm Access and Safaricom to design a payments distribution platform that was branded as M-TIBA in Kenya.
“CarePay can do for healthcare inclusion what M-PESA has done for financial inclusion. It provides speed, accountability, and massively simplifies the user payment experience. ” Bob Collymore, former CEO of Safaricom, previously said.
Currently, the service has connected more than 4.7 million users and 3000 health care providers and has facilitated more than 715,000 treatment claims in Kenya, totaling more than Kshs750M.
The rapid adoption of the service has attracted a number of public and private partners and private insurers. With the success of M-TIBA in Kenya, CarePay is currently headquartered in Amsterdam to facilitate expansion of the platform to other countries, starting with Nigeria and Tanzania.