Closing the gap in global health access
More than half of the world’s population doesn’t have affordable access to essential health services and almost 100 million people fall into extreme poverty due to healthcare costs.
In countries where access to health care is difficult and infrastructure is poor, mobile health or “mHealth” can help. Mobile phones are making it easier to diagnose and track disease, digital payments can be made to cover medication and transportation needs for remote patients, and online health education can be reached by millions of underserved communities.
“More than two-thirds of the people on the planet are now connected to a mobile network and, for many, mobile is the primary – sometimes only – channel for accessing the internet and life-enhancing services.”
In Southeast Asia, Allied World Healthcare partnered with government and the private sector to deliver affordable healthcare in remote communities. In the Philippines and Cambodia, the organization is empowering community members to create health profiles using offline-first apps. This enables access managers to conduct tailored public health outreach campaigns, as well as order and deliver affordable medicine and health services directly to the community.
Amref Health Africa is using mHealth to bridge the gap between people and health services, especially in Africa where they have over 130 programs in 30 countries. Though internet access is limited across Africa, Amref Health Africa is using mobile technology to address disease through hotspot mapping (i.e. tracking the spread of Ebola), training healthcare workers and using text messages to improve health education on oral contraceptives for HIV awareness.
Mobile health (mHealth) has the potential to improve healthcare equity across the globe, providing previously excluded areas with access to better medicine and improved and specialized care. Companies can play a role creating on the ground partnerships with NGOs, governments and multilateral organizations to leverage mobile health technology. As phone ownership around the world continues to increase, mobile applications, especially those that can function without an internet connection, will often be the best option for increasing medical services.