mHealth and mBanking Synergies
Much of the information conveyed at the International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012) was fresh and exciting to me and built on news that comes to me via my social networks. As a relative newcomer to the field of mHealth, I gained a lot of insight into the buzz surrounding the field at the conference. A topic I have been meditating about this week was discussed in a workshop on Showcasing the Potential and Role of Mobile Technology in Turning the Tide on HIV and Other Diseases. An audience member encouraged us to look at the parallels between mHealth and mBanking since they both aim to make sensitive information accessible to the end user but added the caveat that healthcare is more complex and involves more data points.
In Amplifying the Impact: Examining the Intersection of Mobile Health and Mobile Finance, a discussion guide for collaborative insight presented by the World Economic Forum, in partnership with the mHealth Alliance, the potential synergistic relationship is framed beside the staggering numbers people who lack banking and health services:
In looking at the rapidly expanding adoption of mobile communications, one of the most promising opportunities for positive socioeconomic change lies in the scaling of mobile health and mobile financial services. In fact, more people today have access to a mobile phone than to clean water or the electrical grid. By 2012, it is estimated that there will be 1.7 billion people who have mobile phones but no bank account. Of those individuals, approximately 1 billion will also lack access to healthcare systems.
A PBS Newshour article suggested that the two sectors could work together to develop a structure for individual health savings accounts and payment for healthcare services. Conditional cash transfer programs and distribution of healthcare personnel salaries are also areas that financial and health Ministries can collaborate with the banking industry with in order to improve quality of life around the world.
This synergy has the potential to be a game changer for those who desperately seek access to the healthcare system. I hope that at the next International AIDS conference in 2014 in Melbourne, Australia we will be talking about how mHealth and mFinance have helped revolutionized delivery of care and act as a model for intersectoral collaboration.