Mobile Health & Finance: the Potential Impact on Maternal Health
This month, the World Economic Forum and mHealth Alliance presented a report called “Amplifying the Impact: Examining the Intersection of Mobile Health and Mobile Finance.” The paper focuses on how mobile technology and communication can positively impact the spheres of health and finance. As the report points out, more people now have access to mobile phones than have access to clean water- clearly the pervasive nature of this technology is staggering and the potential opportunities in terms of access to health education and care are well worth examining.
The report specifically singles out Maternal Health as an example of the potential applications of mobile health technology. Maternal health care is broken into four main categories:Pre-Pregnancy, Pregnancy, Birth, Post-Natal, and applications for mobil health and financial services are discussed at each stage. For example, in the pre-pregancy phase, women could receive education on preventing STDs or family planning. In the post-natal phase, direct mobile payments could be triggered via mobile phone for child health services such as immunizations.
Really, a very interesting read on using available techonologies to solve major health issues world-wide.
UN Information & Accountability Commission: Maternal & Child Health
As part of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, a global campaign to save the lives of 16 million mothers and children over the next five years was announced in September of 2010, with $40 billion pledged by NGOs, governments, foundations, and private organizations. This Wednesday, a commission will meet in Geneva, Switzerland to establish benchmarks for the maternal and child health initiative. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete will co-chair the commission. According to a UN press release, the accountability framework proposed by the Commission will:
Track results and resource flows at global and country levels:
Identify a core set of indicators and measurement needs for women’s and chilfren’s health;
Propose steps to improve health information and registration of vital events- births and deaths- in low-income countries;
Explore opportunities for innovation in information technology to improve access to reliable information on resources and outcomes.
It should be interesting to hear the first results of this high-level Committee meeting…we’ll be sure to keep you updated as we learn more after January 26th.
Link to Global Strategy document for Women’s and Children’s health on the Every Woman Every Child website:
The Partnering to Improve Maternity Care Quality Act (H.R. 6437) was introduced in November of 2010 by Congressman Eliot Engel (D-NY) with the goal of improving the quality of services available to childbearing women and infants in the US. The bill proposed a number of measures designed to increase provider accountability and set standards of care for maternal health based on quality, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness.
However, as no action was taken on the bill before the House adjourned for the holidays on December 23rd, the bill would need to be reintroduced by the next Congress.
The bill would have required:
The Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to develop a national quality measurement program for maternal and child care. Measures intended to be evidence-based.
HHS to identify a set of maternal care quality measures for data collection, and to publish this information
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) to develop and test a set of maternity care quality measures
AHRQ to adapt the Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems program surveys of providers/health plans/facilities/etc. in order to provide standardized measurements of the quality of care provided to childbearing women and newborns.
HHS to encourage clinicians, health organizations, insurance plans to provide voluntary, standardized reporting on their performance, to be made available to patients, policymakers and purchasers.
HHS to create a demonstration project to evaluate payment reforms within Medicaid
HHS to partner with the Institute of Medicine to identify key care services for childbearing women and infants.
This legislation presented an opportunity for the US in terms of quality control and potential cost-savings. The US has a history of underperformance when it comes to maternal health, so it is a disappointment that this bill was passed over in the most recent session.