Harnessing Innovation for Universal Health Coverage

Sarah HarlanUniversal Health Coverage (UHC) is gaining traction as an umbrella goal of international health development, championed by the Millennium Development Goals campaign and the United Nations, but despite broad-based support for the principals underlying UHC, the road to implementation as a social policy faces numerous challenges.

Pakistan’s health equity fund model, Heartfile Health Financing (HHF), is key to developing country-wide innovative health systems for providing social protection coverage to the poor. The model integrates creative use of mHealth technology to overcome weaknesses of traditional social protection systems and helps ingrain accountability and transparency in addition to making the system more responsive and effective. This is a critical case study as millions across the world are pushed into poverty every year as a result of healthcare costs.

This session profiles the Heartfile Health Financing experience in order to accomplish the following:

  1. Knowledge exchange of how innovation in financing can drive UHC efforts, challenges, best practices, and how to scale and replicate successful models
  2. Engage interested participants in ongoing network or community of practice to share knowledge and experience in future

Contributing organizations

This discussion explored the Heartfile Health Financing model, operational in Pakistan, as a potential model for replication and scalability in other countries with similar health coverage gaps. Panelists discussed the role of technology, governments, the private sector, funding structures, and international cooperation to discern the earmarks of successful models for UHC.

Dr. Timothy Evans, Dean of the James P. Grant School of Public Health at BRAC University in Bangladesh, joined the conversation via recorded message from Dhaka to help set the tone of the conversation.

How is HHF innovative?

Before launching the Heartfile Health Financing platform, the Heartfile think tank spent more than four years studying health systems in developing countries, and while the HHF model created has initially served the Islamabad area, it was built for scale and replication, and has recently begun serving hospitals in Peshawar and Rawalpindi.

Heartfile Health Financing has been identified by IPIHD as a healthcare innovator in that it addresses a reform to its national health system construct by:

  • Being clear about the need it addresses
  • Putting the patient at the center of its mission
  • Utilizing technology as an enabler to a solution, not an end in itself
  • Simplicity of approach


This post first appeared on the IPIHD Blog website and is crossposted from: http://www.ipihd.org/blog/



  1. Nat Yousaf says

    Impressed to see such a transparent system of health financing work in Pakistan. There is hope for universal health coverage.

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