Brazil has been the leader in mobile wallet use for years, and now this technology has expanded into the medical insurance sector, benefitting many of the country’s most underserved citizens.

Brazil’s Sistema Único de Saúde (SUS) is a national healthcare system designed to provide medical assistance to the entire population. The socialized system of health care benefits suffers from plenty of structural issues, but thanks to mobile technology, it’s one of the most accessible systems in practice today.

According to The Brazil Business, citizens in need of medical assistance might have to wait up to two months before being seen by a general practitioner. Local hospitals don’t necessarily have specialists such as cardiologists and endocrinologists, and getting surgery can take up to two years for some.

But despite the poor distribution of specialized medical staff, the system does manage to make basic treatment accessible.

Any Brazilian can go to a public hospital and at least receive affordable emergency care or start the process towards longer-term treatment — just so long as they remember to bring their government-issued ID and SUS card.

Shopping for Health

Although SUS isn’t the be-all-end-all healthcare solution, Brazil has pioneered this application of mobile technology and made medical access easier than ever before. Now, instead of carrying their insurance cards in their wallets, Brazilians can access it on their smartphones with an app much like a mobile wallet.

Brazilians are used to apps like these: 40% of the population over the age of fifteen don’t use banks, choosing instead to use their smartphones to keep track of money and make payments.

A 2014 Mobile Marketing Association survey analyzed the shopping habits of Brazilian smartphone users and found that 40% of respondents used their smartphone to compare prices in store, and 14% had used their phone to purchase something within the past month. With a population so open to mobile wallets, mobile health insurance was sure to be a hit as well.

Mobile wallets make payment easy and secure, saving users the worries that come with carrying a card or remembering a PIN. Additionally, mobile wallets are more technologically streamlined, meaning that insurance carriers and healthcare professionals can better track doctor visits, medical histories, and population trends.

As mobile wallets and payments become more popular around the world, various industries will find use for their services. Already, Brazil has taken steps to improve healthcare in a simple way, and hopefully, these simple changes will culminate in improvements across all sectors.