Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Telenor launches digital health service in Bangladesh

Steve Rogerson
June 14, 2016
Telenor has unveiled its first move to improve healthcare in emerging markets, with the introduction of its digital health service, Tonic, in Bangladesh.
Launched through the Norwegian company’s mobile operator Grameenphone, Tonic is one of Asia’s first mobile-based health and wellness services platform providing a myriad of digital health services from health information to a modern health line and exclusive medically related financial benefits.
“Harnessing technology to address basic health challenges is an area of growing interest for Telenor, especially in countries like Bangladesh,” said Sigve Brekke, president and CEO of Telenor Group. “Health and particularly digital health has the potential of becoming an integral part of our development as a robust digital service provider, and there is no better place to start than Bangladesh. We have been present in the country since 1997, longer than any other Asian market, and furthering access to healthcare, medical professionals, aspirational health content and discounts for hospitals are an extension of our commitment to empowering the community.”
Currently, Telenor serves more than 185 million customers across Asia. Upon success in Bangladesh, Tonic could represent the first step in scaling digital health services to tens of millions of consumers across Telenor markets and beyond.
Tonic was officially launched at an event in Dhaka, Bangladesh, in the presence of the minister of health and family welfare, Mohammad Nasim, and state minister of the posts and telecommunications division, Tarana Halim, alongside Vivek Sood, EVP and chief marketing officer of Telenor Group. Offered in the first phase exclusively to the 57 million Grameenphone customers from June 5 onwards, Tonic provides admission to a variety of free or opt-in services to all members.
Tonic Services are offered to customers within four package offerings:

  1. Jibon (Life) is one of the first Bengali-language services to provide high quality, science-backed information on how to build a healthier and happier life for members. Content is accessible through the web, SMS and Tonic’s Facebook page.
  2. Daktar (Doctor) lets members access high quality and immediate medical advice on basic health topics via phone at a rate of Tk5 per minute, without the traditional barriers of distance, cost or safety concerns. Tonic Daktar is designed to decrease the healthcare burden on the brick and mortar system.
  3. Discounts offers exclusive discounts on key services at more than 50 popular hospitals across Bangladesh. Via a quick SMS with the partner code to 789, Tonic members can access care at a lower cost.
  4. Cash provides members Tk500 if they have been hospitalised for three consecutive nights or more, paid directly to a member’s mobile banking wallet. Members can claim Tonic Cash up to four times a year, and no diseases or medical issues are excluded. Tonic Cash serves to mitigate financial risk for Bangladeshi families as well as play a role in building credibility of insurance providers.
Incorporated last year, Telenor Health is the health subsidiary of Telenor Group, credited with the birth of Tonic. The launch of Tonic is the first official step by Telenor into the global health sector, and the services offered through Tonic underscore the company’s aim to develop a “digital front door to health for all”.
“We are excited to launch Tonic to the market and grow it further per member needs and alongside strategic partners,” said Sajid Rahman, CEO of Telenor Health. “We strongly believe the introduction of Tonic into the healthcare ecosystem will improve health care attitudes and perceptions by allowing everyday people easy access to aspirational information for preventative health, hospital discounts and expert medical advice instantly without prohibitive costs.”