In many countries, private healthcare providers play a significant role in providing essential healthcare services. They may be the first point of contact for people with the most common ailments or the preferred source of healthcare for people with the rarest conditions. In many low- and middle-income countries, they provide care for the poor as well as the rich segments of the population.
Quite often, they operate as islands, with little to no engagement with other healthcare providers or accreditation and regulation systems. Conversely, healthcare systems have found it challenging to engage with private healthcare providers (especially at the primary care level) in the effort to implement standards of care, or to enlist their efforts for critical public health initiatives.
Social franchising—a way of organizing private sector healthcare providers into networks using select commercial franchising principles— presents one practical approach to working with networks of private healthcare providers to carry out population-wide health initiatives.
To learn about social franchising for health services, visit sf4health.org.