The role of digital strategies in financing health care for universal health coverage in low- and middle-income countries

Bruno Meessen

    Research output: Contribution to journalA2: International peer reviewed article (not A1-type)peer-review


    Countries finance health care using a combination of 3 main functions: raising resources for health, pooling resources, and purchasing health services. In this paper, we examine how digital health technologies can be used to enhance these health financing functions in low- and middle-income countries and can thus contribute to progress toward universal health coverage. We illustrate our points by presenting some recent innovations in digital technologies for financing health care, identifying their contributions and their limits. Some examples include a mobile-health wallet application used in Kenya that encourages households to put money aside for future health expenses; an online software platform developed by a startup in Tanzania in partnership with a private insurance provider to give individuals and families the opportunity to choose among different health coverage options; and digital maps by a number of start-ups that bring together data on health facility locations and capacity, including equipment, staff, and types of services offered. We also sketch an agenda for future research and action for digital strategies for health financing. The development and adoption of effective solutions that align well with the universal health coverage agenda will require strong partnerships between stakeholders and enough proactive stewardship by authorities.

    Original languageEnglish
    JournalGlobal Health-Science and Practice
    Pages (from-to)S29-S40
    Number of pages12
    Publication statusPublished - 2018


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