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Each year, one-third of all new cases of poverty in Southeast Asia are due to healthcare costs . In South Asia alone, 64.8% of the total health expenditure is attributed to out-of-pocket healthcare payments. While Universal Health Coverage is the ideal state of paying for and guaranteeing care, it is not feasible for many countries in the short-term. Financial services has been playing an increasingly bigger role in addressing out-of-pocket costs through innovative business models and new technologies that eliminate inefficiencies and improve access to high-quality healthcare.

Since Fintech for Health was first conceptualize in 2017, ACCESS Health International has been bringing together the right people to address these issues. We have developed frameworks, conducted extensive research, dialogued with large and small fintech and healthcare players in six separate countries, identified multiple problem statements through conversations with patients and healthcare systems, and brokered a countless number of conversations around solutions to address the needs of these vulnerable populations.

Our first Fintech for Health publication acts as the guiding framework for current and future partnerships and projects formed under this program. The problem statements, case studies, and innovative solutions presented in this paper are derived from extensive research and initial lessons from our endeavours thus far and are applicable globally.

In this paper, we share three key takeaways on why Fintech for Health is urgently needed to address the healthcare financing challenges of low- and moderate-income populations in Asia:

Health financing must be patient-centred

To create effective and realistic financial solutions, we need first to understand patients’ financial decision-making regarding accessing healthcare, which is based on known and unknown indirect costs of care, and the ability – and willingness – to access trusted and transparent financing.

This is a call to bring sectors together

The population that is banked or underbanked is disproportionally low-income and is the same population that UHC policies seek to support. The development goals of Universal Health Coverage and universal financial access are essentially the same – to ensure that people are financially sound while pursuing both a better quality of life and health. The financial services sector has a direct and important role to play in creating financial solutions for healthcare.

The best solutions will be bundled, integrated, and comprehensive

Fintech can be used to deliver three types of solutions: information, healthcare services, and financing (i.e. financing products and services). Examples of healthcare services would be telehealth consultations and e-pharmacies. In the realm of patient-facing health financing, we may highlight insurance marketplaces, claims processing, digital savings and lending, and crowdfunding. Patients’ needs rarely fall into just one category. To be patient-centred, solutions providers must consider the totality of patient needs and preferences, partnering when necessary and delivering accordingly, so that patients have what we all deserve: options.

Whitepaper presentation: Sejal Mistry, Regional Director for Southeast Asia, ACCESS Health International

Event Moderator: Dr. Chang Liu, Regional Director for Greater China & Southeast Asia, ACCESS Health International

Panel Moderator: Adrienne Mendenhall, Director of Business Development, ACCESS Health International