Interest is growing in the potential of fintech to address pressing societal challenges, including access to health care.

Fintech brings together finance and digital technologies and is a fast-growing sector. It uses innovations such as mobile money, blockchain, and artificial intelligence within banking and other financial services to improve convenience, financial inclusion, financial transacting, and data analytics, and help inform decisionmaking for service providers and consumers alike.

The applications of fintech are being explored and tested in a range of areas, including as an innovative route for securing access to health care finance. According to the World Health Organisation, nearly 100 million people have been driven to poverty because of the costs of meeting health care expenses. As well as having the potential to expedite payment processes and reduce complex transaction costs, fintech is being considered as a means of broadening financial access to meet the health care needs of underserved communities.

This potential may be particularly pertinent for low-income countries where smartphone ownership is increasing, but out-of-pocket spending for health care is high, bank account ownership is not a given, and attaining good credit scores may be a challenge for many. In high-income countries where health insurance coverage may be fragmented or inaccessible, or where public health care systems fail to meet demand, fintech may also be a promising intervention to bridge accessibility gaps.

Various fintech-enabled finance approaches have been developed and are being tested or implemented in health care, but there is very limited insight and knowledge sharing about what works, when, and how.

Many fintech-enabled health care applications are not new in their underlying approaches—for example insurance and microfinance. However, the digital conversion of these approaches is an innovative way of potentially increasing the scale, reach, and sustainability of access to health care funds. It is the application of fintech to tackling health care access challenges that are innovative but underexplored.

Read the full article about fintech and health care access by Sam Alom and Sonja Marjanovic at RAND Corporation.