According to LBO’s second write up on our teleuse results, the higher awareness of health information services in Sri Lanka can be explained by two factors: the mismatch between supply and demand in the government health-services sector and the existence since around 2000 of e Channeling, a multi-modal service that allows people to make appointments at private health facilities (and pay for them) over a mobile, over the Internet, through an intermediary at a local pharmacy and so on. I tend to give greater weight to the latter; government health services are rationed through congestion all over the world, not only in Sri Lanka. There is nothing like the service being available for awareness to rise.
The study in 2011 by the LIRNEasia think tank said found that the use of mobile phones for services other than the basic voice function was still sparse among the poorest users compared with a previous survey in 2008.
In Sri Lanka only six percent of users in the so-called bottom-of-the-pyramid (BOP) or poorest segment knew of banking services through mobile phones compared with 18 percent in India and 15 percent in Thailand.
But Sri Lankan users were the most aware in the case of health services, scoring the highest among all countries in the study at 22 percent compared with 16 percent in India and 17 percent in Thailand.
Use of mobile phones to fix appointments with doctors in private hospitals has caught on in the island where the health system is overloaded and patients face lengthy waiting times for consultations.
The researchers who did the study said more-than-voice services like health could be an important means of accessing the BOP market for services for mobile phone companies.