Top 3 low-cost Tech Breakthroughs in Health
Social entrepreneurs are innovating with technology to lower the cost of providing health services and enable early diagnosis and prevention. These promising solutions have emerged in developing markets, where scarce resources mean that health workers must do a whole lot more with less.
These tech breakthroughs are helping solve critical problems facing health systems, including high costs and a lack of access to preventative care. Could these health innovations be helping to transform health systems near you.
1. DBS Screening: Low-tech blood screening
DBS screening costs one-fourth as much as traditional blood tests that are used to diagnose diseases, but are unaffordable for billions of people worldwide. DBS’s pilot project in Brazil reached more than 150,000 expectant mothers and found that 5 percent of them had either HIV, syphilis, hepatitis B, or toxoplasmosis. As an effective tool for early diagnosis and intervention, DBS was able to help these mothers seek treatment and prevent the transmission of the infections to their babies. Marti is currently in the process of launching DBS screening in India, Guatemala, Liberia, Angola, Rumania, Peru, and Mexico.
2. Changamka Microhealth – Smart card for mobile health insurance
Changamka’s health smart card enables Kenyans to access medical care at a pre-contracted price—all they need is a mobile phone. Mainstream health insurance services are out of reach for 95 percent of Kenya’s workers. Because 93 percent of Kenyans are mobile phone users, Changamka is able to leverage mobile payment technology to make it easier for individuals to save money for health services. Smart card bearers (and their families) can see a doctor and receive lab tests and medicine at discount prices. Health providers benefit from increased patient volumes and “assured and timely payments every fortnight, free of administrative costs.”
3. CycleBeads: Low-cost, effective family planning
CycleBeads is a 95 percent effective tool for family planning that allows a woman and her partner to easily track her fertile and unfertile days using the Standard Days Method. The tool comes in the form of a bracelet with colored beads, as well as a smartphone app called iCycleBeads. The tool is convenient and discreet, and it has the added effect of involving men in the family planning process.
Tech breakthroughs like these are being pioneered by Ashoka Fellows— leading social entrepreneurs that are committed to transforming the world’s problems by innovating. For more solutions from health social entrepreneurs around the world, explore Transforming Health Systems: Gamechanging Business Models, a new online competition launched in partnership with Boehringer Ingelheim.
By Kirstie Wang