By; RAYMOND TEDUNJAYE, Lagos
In preparation for the mandatory Lagos State Health Scheme (LSHS) to be launched soon, the state government on Monday said it would adopt a technology based application that would go a long way to ensure easy access of the scheme by residents especially for underprivileged households.
The LSHS is a state-wide health insurance initiative targeted to ensure that all residents of the state have access to quality, affordable health care services.
The scheme covers treatment of common adult and childhood ailments, maternal and child services, preventive healthcare services, selected non-communicable diseases and surgeries.
Commissioner for Health, Dr. Jide Idris in a statement, said the technology, ‘CarePay’ ICT platform is a mobile solution for scheme administration which serves as a digital health exchange that would connect the three important stakeholders in Healthcare: payers, healthcare providers and the users or beneficiaries.
He expressed optimism that the CarePay platform “will guarantee ownership of all data generated and ensure that these data can be used to make informed decisions”.
According to him, one of the objectives was to demonstrate how digital mobile solutions can be utilized to improve decision-making and transparency, reduce transaction costs, and increase access especially for poor households.
Idris said in collaboration with the State Ministry of Health, PharmAccess Foundation Nigeria, a non-governmental organization dedicated to improving access to healthcare in Africa through technology and mobile innovations, implemented the proof of concept mirroring the LSHS benefit package, provider payment mechanisms and the interaction between patients and providers.
He said the proof of concept has 153 families (659 enrollees) in two facilities (one private provider and one public provider) in Alimosho Local Government Area of Lagos State.
Idris said: “Having run for a period of twelve months, the pilot witnessed the 659 beneficiaries, whose premium was paid for by PharmAccess Nigeria, received access to free healthcare for the duration of the pilot.
“The results of this pilot show that the scheme is doable and is a step in the right direction towards achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC) for the residents of Lagos State.”
According to the General Manager, Lagos State Health Management Agency, Dr Peju Adenusi, the scheme is a mandatory pre-paid health plan for all residents, adding that the LSHS aims to as achieve universal coverage and provide financial protection against catastrophic health care spending. “A healthy population is a productive population,” Adenusi added.
On her part, Country Director of PharmAccess Foundation Nigeria, Mrs Njide Ndili, the proof of concept which started in September, 2017 was implemented to demonstrate how the scheme can improve the lives of the most vulnerable population at scale, using the mobile phone and light technology.
She explained that prior to commencement of the proof of concept, field agents visited communities around two selected hospitals – Igando General Hospital and Subol Hospital to recruit eligible beneficiaries who will then be enrolled into the pilot.
“The Poverty Probability Index identification tool was administered to identify those eligible for the pilot programme and one of those found eligible was Mrs Morenikeji (surname withheld), who hitherto was in a fix after she found out she was pregnant”.
“The 35 year-old was worried over the financial implications the pregnancy would tax on them, given that she has suffered from complications from previous pregnancies. Her worries were rested by the LSHS benefit package which includes pregnancy, normal delivery, caesarean section and post-natal care at Igando General Hospital”, Ndili said.
She added that Morenikeji is one of many success stories from the pilot noting that she had a caesarian section in which she was delivered of a healthy baby boy.
According to the Health Plans Program Officer, PharmAccess Foundation Nigeria, Yemisi Khalidson, the pilot was administered using the CarePay ICT platform, which he said would ensure seamless implementation of the scheme on takeoff.
He said: “The platform can manage various types of healthcare payments and healthcare benefits from different programs, and present these payments and benefits to the beneficiaries on their mobile phone in a clear and user friendly way. For each hospital visit, the treatment data is submitted electronically by the healthcare provider and after approval by a medical claims assessor, the funds are moved digitally to the healthcare provider.”