By Emma Okonji
Funds and Electronic Transfer Solutions Limited (FETS) a leading Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) licensed mobile money operator in Nigeria and Communic8Health, a health market consumer research organisation in collaboration with PharmAccess Mobile Health Research Lab in Nigeria have successfully completed a study on digital payment for healthcare using the fets mobile money wallet platform, fetswallet.
The main objective was to study how mobile phones and mobile payment technologies can be used to improve access to affordable and quality healthcare services to individuals and communities otherwise constrained.
The study was designed to introduce low income households to mobile payment as an alternative to cash payments for health services; assess its usability and acceptability; observe any change in healthcare utilisation in the participating health facilities and the target participants’ health-seeking behavior and eventually migrate the households to a saving test to cater for their health expenses.
The observation study was carried out on 4 health facilities and 50 low income households in Makoko in Lagos, primarily targeting women with under-five children, classified as principals for the test, who owned a mobile phone.
Managing Director of FETS, Mrs. Omotade Odunowo, said: “We are delighted to partner PharmAccess in this innovative initiative. We’re determined to spread the ‘gospel’ of electronic money transfer via Fetswallet to every nook and cranny in the country. The results from research will form viable data to inspire more of our service and product offerings to reach more Nigerians, especially disadvantaged individuals and communities who will benefit from our services.”
Principal Consultant at Communc8Health, Dr. Ademola Serrano, comments on the initiative, “Communic8Health believes the innovative application of simple and effective technologies will solve common, real-world health problems in developing countries. This is what drives our approach to all projects we undertake.”
The Mobile Health Research Labs, Lagos, in partnership with the PharmAccess Foundation and FETS Limited, is providing the space where innovation in mobile health meets research, and we are glad to collaborate with them in creating sustainable mhealth solutions.
Prior to the commencement of the test, a programme orientation workshop was conducted for the principals on how to use their activated mobile money wallet to pay for health purchases and the protocol for access to care. As an added incentive N2,000 was subsidised to each household’s fetswallet to encourage participation in the programme and the observation study while the health facilities were not incentivised beyond the attraction of dedicated clients during the test period
In terms of educational background and awareness, over 75 per cent of the women recruited had completed secondary school education and only a few of the participating households had heard of “mobile money”, and field agents recruited from the community had to explain its difference to the mobile call credit repeatedly.
From the health facilities perspective, after “ease of payment”, the convenience of using the fets mobile payment platform was actually the most touted advantage, and it was the main reason for recommendation to others. From the households’ perspective, over 82 per cent stopped carrying cash to the hospital due to the fact that they trusted their fetswallet to work. At the end of the six-months, almost all 98 per cent of the households indicated fetswallet had positively influenced the way they manage healthcare expenses. Likewise, over 54 per cent of the participating households indicated that they would like to save their own personal funds using the fets mobile money platform when asked.