Making Incentives Work: Using Mobile Vouchers to Improve Maternal Health in Cambodia
Mobile maternal health voucher programs have the potential to transform a novel incentive scheme into a cost effective and efficient way to spark an increase in the utilization of health services and to reduce maternal morbidity and mortality. Health voucher programs enable women to purchase vouchers for maternal health services at a fraction of the cost and redeem them at quality-accredited facilities, public or private. This innovative strategy has been being successfully piloted in several low-income countries. However, recent evaluation data suggests that voucher programs experience delays in the processing of voucher claims and reimbursements, which have slowed down the delivery of payments to providers and thus their incentive for participation in the program. Mobile technology has the potential to reduce these barriers and improve the efficiency of voucher programs in three ways:
1) Distributors are able to sell and authenticate vouchers using field-based validation.
2) Women are able to store their voucher and get information about services on their phones.
3) Providers are able to submit claims and receive reimbursement via mobile phones.
Working with InSTEDD, a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing technological solutions to developing countries, and the Population Council which has been implementing a voucher program in Cambodia since June 2010, Venture Strategies for Health and Development will coordinate a mobile voucher system. With $250,000 from the two-year seed grant, we will adapt and pilot a mobile maternal health voucher system and evaluate the change in efficiency and utilization of maternal health services.