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


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