Nivi’s digital health marketplace: Accelerating progress toward universal health coverage (UHC) through digital self-care

By Dr. Ben Bellows, co-founder and Chief Business Officer at Nivi

Non-profit, commercial, and public health organizations face significant challenges in tailoring interventions to provide the information and resources that individuals need to make informed decisions and achieve their health objectives. More than 4 billion people go without healthcare; and individuals with a low sense of agency are less likely to seek health services or care. The inability to overcome this agency-action gap stymies progress toward universal health coverage (UHC). 

New, innovative approaches are warranted. One that is person-centered— that supports, motivates, and empowers individuals to initiate care-seeking—involves significant repositioning of health system resources. Self-care is not undertaken alone and the health journey is not solitary. Organizations meet that individual demand by designing and distributing drugs, devices, and diagnostics that people can use with or without the help of health care providers. New digital technologies—such as smartphones and wearables along with expanding internet connectivity and processing advances in artificial intelligence—are creating novel ways for organizations to engage people on their self-care journeys.

Map motivation

Successful self-care interventions rely on understanding individual motivation. Organizations that can measure how likely the individual will act on their own health priorities are better positioned to serve individuals. Health organizations are often ill equipped to measure individuals’ level of readiness. They find it even more difficult to deliver tailored self-care interventions that can (1) modify readiness and (2) increase the likelihood that an individual will move further along their self-care journey.

There are hundreds of chatbot interventions that support self-care health journeys related to mental health, sexual and reproductive health, weight loss, and other topics. However, monitoring and responding to consumers’ levels of readiness using reliable and validated metrics is inconsistent. Without validated and reliable metrics of readiness and a priority to measure them, it becomes impossible to tailor digital interventions to support individuals where they are, with the information they most need, in the format and at the time they most need—as they change their readiness and move their health priorities forward.

Our theory of change

Nivi is a digital health marketplace that has served health information, digital counseling, and referrals to more than 1.5 million users in India, Kenya, and Nigeria via more than 20 business partnerships to date. Nonprofits, commercial entities, and state agencies can subscribe to Nivi for behavior change, marketing, and insights. Anyone can access the chatbot experience via WhatsApp confidentially, and for free. By targeting information when it’s most relevant to the users who are most likely to act on it, Nivi can identify highly motivated (“high readiness”) individuals and support them from initial awareness through to action. Historically, most of the interaction has been health education and referral generation.

Nivi is increasingly focused on completing relevant referrals across a wide range of product and service endpoints including e-commerce, pharmacies, teleconsultation, and clinics. In this way, Nivi aims to expand its growing health marketplace and better connect the services and products it provides to behavior change theory—equipping its users with the information necessary to make better, more informed decisions about their healthcare and increasing the likelihood that they will follow through on those choices. 

Universal self-care 

Nivi’s ability to strengthen user agency and motivation – closing the agency-action gap – has the potential to help us build the world we want by improving effective population coverage and aligning products and services to individuals who will most benefit from them. Reaching finely segmented audiences and helping individuals to access the health system at the most relevant points in their unique health journey is a critical step toward achieving universal health coverage and a healthy future for all. 

Are you in Kenya? Try askNivi Kenya! Click here and send the keyword #UHC_2022 

Are you in Nigeria? Give askNivi Nigeria a go! Click here and send the keyword #UHC_2022

Are you reading this in India? Explore askNivi India, click here and send the keyword #UHC_2022


The Future of Work

With overarching commitments to flexibility in our work, and greater wellbeing for our employees, we want to ensure PSI is positioned for success with a global and holistic view of talent. Under our new “work from (almost) anywhere,” or “WFAA” philosophy, we are making the necessary investments to be an employer of record in more than half of U.S. states, and consider the U.S. as one single labor market for salary purposes. Globally, we recognize the need to compete for talent everywhere; we maintain a talent center in Nairobi and a mini-hub in Abidjan. PSI also already works with our Dutch-based European partner, PSI Europe, and we’re creating a virtual talent center in the UK.


Meaningful Youth Engagement

PSI is firmly committed to the meaningful engagement of young people in our work. As signatories of the Global Consensus Statement on Meaningful Adolescent & Youth Engagement, PSI affirms that young people have a fundamental right to actively and meaningfully engage in all matters that affect their lives. PSI’s commitments aim to serve and partner with diverse young people from 10-24 years, and we have prioritized ethics and integrity in our approach. Read more about our commitments to the three core principles of respect, justice and Do No Harm in the Commitment to Ethics in Youth-Powered Design. And read more about how we are bringing our words to action in our ICPD+25 commitment, Elevating Youth Voices, Building Youth Skills for Health Design.


Zero Tolerance for Modern-Day Slavery and Human Trafficking

PSI works to ensure that its operations and supply chains are free from slavery and human trafficking. Read more about this commitment in our policy statement, endorsed by the PSI Board of Directors.



Since 2017, PSI has been a signatory to the United Nations Global Compact, a commitment to align strategies and operations with universal principles of human rights, labor, environment and anti-corruption. Read about PSI’s commitment to the UN Global Compact here.


Environmental Sustainability

The health of PSI’s consumers is inextricably linked to the health of our planet. That’s why we’ve joined the Climate Accountability in Development as part of our commitment to reducing our greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2030. Read about our commitment to environmental sustainability.


Affirmative Action and Equal Employment Opportunity

PSI does not discriminate against any employee or applicant for employment because of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, age, marital status, genetic information, disability, protected veteran status or any other classification protected by applicable federal, state or local law. Read our full affirmative action and equal employment opportunity policy here.


Zero Tolerance for Discrimination and Harassment

PSI is committed to establishing and maintaining a work environment that fosters harmonious, productive working relationships and encourages mutual respect among team members. Read our policy against discrimination and harassment here.

PSI is committed to serving all health consumers with respect, and strives for the highest standards of ethical behavior. PSI is dedicated to complying with the letter and spirit of all laws, regulations and contractual obligations to which it is subject, and to ensuring that all funds with which it is entrusted are used to achieve maximum impact on its programs. PSI provides exceptionally strong financial, operational and program management systems to ensure rigorous internal controls are in place to prevent and detect fraud, waste and abuse and ensure compliance with the highest standards. Essential to this commitment is protecting the safety and well-being of our program consumers, including the most vulnerable, such as women and children. PSI maintains zero tolerance for child abuse, sexual abuse, or exploitative acts or threats by our employees, consultants, volunteers or anyone associated with the delivery of our programs and services, and takes seriously all complaints of misconduct brought to our attention.


Diversity and Inclusion

PSI affirms its commitment to diversity and believes that when people feel respected and included they can be more honest, collaborative and successful. We believe that everyone deserves respect and equal treatment regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, cultural background or religious beliefs. Read our commitment to diversity and inclusion here. Plus, we’ve signed the CREED Pledge for Racial and Ethnic Equity. Learn more.


Gender Equality

PSI affirms gender equality is a universal human right and the achievement of it is essential to PSI’s mission. Read about our commitment to gender equality here.


01 #PeoplePowered

02 Breaking Taboos

03 Moving Care Closer to Consumers

04 Innovating on Investments

Let's Talk About Sex