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Designing health services for low-income Kenyans

Kenya has an underperforming and underfunded health sector, making it difficult to provide healthcare in an efficient, effective and equitable way. Nearly 40% of Kenyans cite cost as the reason they don’t seek healthcare.

In collaboration with MicroEnsure, Penda Health and Grameen Foundation, ThinkPlace looked at ways to provide low-cost health insurance and health information to low-income Kenyans. The initiative, called the ‘Uzima Project’ (uzima means ‘the wholeness of life’ in Kiswahili), focused on providing people on low incomes with access to high quality health services, finance and information. 

We carried out user research in two areas in Kitengella and Umoja around Penda Health clinics, to better understand the health needs, concerns, and barriers to access that keep so many Kenyans from achieving a healthy life. 

People’s goals, aspirations and perceptions of insurance and healthcare were captured in the research and turned into user personas. Four opportunity spaces were uncovered: assuring value for money, rewarding healthy behaviours, building confidence through quality, and catalysing community action.

We co-designed 10 key concepts with users and stakeholders based on the four opportunity spaces and shortlisted three concepts for testing. The final concept aimed to hide insurance in everyday costs that people were already incurring.

The big idea was to reward people through private partnerships with health insurance providers, with a motivator of free healthcare visits to prove the value of the extra cost before adopting. The research findings continue to be used by all stakeholders in their insurance and healthcare interventions in low-income communities in Kenya.

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MicroEnsure, Penda Health & Grameen Foundation
Project Team
Richard Amwayi's profile'

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