In many low- and middle-income countries, patient healthcare data is currently fragmented and largely collected, recorded, and stored in paper-based systems.
The manual healthcare system can cause siloed medical records, limited patient verification, lack of accessibility and offline portability, and results in an inability to aggregate and report data efficiently.
This is why Mastercard, Gavi, the Ethiopia Ministry of Health and JSI have announced a partnership to implement the Mastercard Wellness Pass solution within Ethiopia’s health information system, with the aim of bringing efficiency to healthcare tracking and offline portability of health records in the most marginalized communities.
Mastercard Wellness Pass is an interoperable and offline portable healthcare credential – accessible within a trusted network that creates continuity of care by allowing a patient’s medical data to be stored offline and travel with them on their Mastercard Community Pass chip card, which every patient receives from participating health facilities when they get their first vaccine or health service.
For clinicians, Wellness Pass ensures that the vaccination records are available any time through participating health facilities, regardless of connectivity, and utilizes tokenized biometrics to verify service delivery and adhere to vaccination cycles.
This progressive initiative by the Ministry of Health is just one piece in the larger Information Revolution Agenda, an ambitious component of the Health Sector Transformation Plan that seeks to improve the availability, accessibility, affordability, and quality of primary health care, thereby improving health and wellbeing of the Ethiopian population.
The partnership aims to implement the Wellness Pass technology through several phases. Phase one of the implementation will be focused on Covid-19 vaccination tracking and will be deployed at health facilities throughout the country, including both urban and rural locations, over a 15-month period. Phase two plans to scale the use of Wellness Pass across multiple health care programs, to be determined in partnership with the Ministry of Health.
Creating efficiencies by improving health data accessibility
Mastercard’s Wellness Pass in Ethiopia is the second implementation on the continent, after the launch in Mauritania, which aims to digitize the childhood immunization program to ensure consistent and improved service delivery to parents and children across health facilities and to ensure that government and health partners can access trusted data in an aggregated form to inform policy and decision making.
Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, and Mastercard have been partnered since 2018, to deploy the Mastercard Wellness Pass to eligible countries, with the aim to not only deliver vaccines to millions of individuals, but also, using Mastercard’s technology, enable digitization of health records in the form of contactless cards.
“Ensuring the equitable distribution of vaccines is critical for the world to emerge from this pandemic, and it will take a collective response by the public and private sector. Working together with Gavi, the Ethiopia Ministry of Health and JSI, this partnership will allow us to bring private sector technology and capabilities to the table to support efforts to make sure that everyone has access to critical health care and that that care is delivered in an efficient and effective manner,” says Michael Froman, Vice Chairman and President of Strategic Growth, Mastercard.
“The digitisation of vaccination records through the Mastercard Wellness Pass enables us to reach and to continue to care for patients with vital health services such as immunisation. Innovative partnerships such as this help us to improve access to care so that everyone receives the essential vaccines they need to survive and thrive,” says Marie-Ange Saraka-Yao, Gavi’s Managing Director of Resource Mobilisation, Private Sector Partnerships & Innovative Finance, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance
This digital technology will support Ethiopia’s national health response program by enabling the continuity of patient care through the portability of digitized health records. These will be in the form of contactless cards for patients that can be used by health facilities in both connected and offline environments.
The portable health credentials will improve healthcare by decentralizing patient record keeping and facilitating better recording, tracking, and patient adherence to vaccination cycles.
This will benefit not only the patient, but also healthcare service providers, and the Ministry of Health.
“Lack of healthcare data portability has a definite impact on the levels of service utilisation and health outcomes among people in different geographical areas and socio-economic groups. Therefore, it is very important to solve this great challenge, and it will take a collective response by public and private sectors to reach the necessary scale, and this is why we are excited about this new partnership, one that is designed to enable us to provide the best possible care to our citizens, regardless of where they are,” says Dr Lia Tadesse from Ministry of Health.
Digitising health records is the first step to transforming health care across the African continent, but it can be a challenging undertaking for any government. By improving access to and reliability of program data, Ethiopia’s Wellness Pass will allow for more accurate measurement of target populations for COVAX related data-driven planning, improved adherence to health care protocols, and continuity of care to patients through record portability.