Networks and Franchising

Private providers typically operate in small, independent practices. Finding the right organizing structure to access these providers is one of the biggest challenges in scaling up health services. They are often isolated from training and professional development opportunities and difficult to reach in a cost-efficient manner.

Networking private providers is an effective way to expand the supply of quality health services. Through networks, and particularly social franchising, providers can achieve economies of scale in training, procurement, and marketing. Networks can facilitate the rapid expansion of coverage, improve financial access by standardizing prices, and ensure quality and brand recognition. A network can include professional medical associations, nongovernmental organizations, social franchises, and commercial enterprises.

SHOPS Plus offers technical assistance in developing a new network or improving the viability, service quality, cost-effectiveness, and scale of an existing one. The project assists individual providers within networks with business management, financial planning, and developing sound quality assurance and monitoring systems. SHOPS Plus also continues to advance knowledge on social franchises though research and development of thought pieces and technical papers.

Example of our work

Identifying cost-effective ways for franchisors to achieve scale is of keen interest to the social franchising community. SHOPS Plus is identifying potential promising practices and lessons learned from the range of cost-effective strategies different networks currently apply. Additional strategies that achieve efficiencies of scale without sacrificing quality will be pilot tested. The project will develop a technical paper that includes recommendations of cost-effective strategies to replicate and scale.

In Nepal, SHOPS Plus supports the Nepal Contraceptive Retail Services Company (CRS), which aims to increase access to family planning services. CRS supports a large network of pharmacies called the Sangini network to promote and provide DMPA, a 3-month injectable contraceptive. SHOPS Plus conducted a quality assurance assessment of the network, which is the principal private sector source of DMPA in the country. The project will provide technical assistance to improve the network's management and links to the public health system. 

Countries: India, Madagascar, NepalSenegal