mHealth and evidence
July 27, 2013 § Leave a comment
“Mobile health (mHealth) is the provision of health services and information via mobile and wireless technologies. Within [many developing countries] the mobile phone has become ubiquitous, making mHealth applications an important tool with which to impact the health of [citizens]. When applied correctly, mHealth can make real contributions to improved health outcomes. mHealth has the potential to address and overcome (1) disparities in access to health services; (2) inadequacies of the health infrastructure within countries; (3) shortage of human resources for health; (4) high cost of accessing health; and (5) limitations in the availability of financial resources” (mHealth Compendium vo. 2). That said, like all interventions, mHealth interventions can have unforeseen side-effects that necessitate well-designed impact evaluation. For this reason, a new website designed in partnership with Johns Hopkins School of Public Health has been created to serve as the epicenter of mHealth evidence. mhealthevidence.org includes advanced search options for accessing evidence by topic, region, methods, or MESH term.
mHealth interventions really do have the potential to lengthen the stride of health services and providers in rural and disperse populations. A recent report by USAID contains twenty-seven case studies which document a range of mHealth applications being implemented mainly throughout Africa (because the report was compiled by the African Strategies for Health (ASH) contract), but also other regions. It includes examples of mHealth interventions ranging from behavior change, to data collection, finance, information dispersion, and service delivery. It’s worth a look-through. The use of mobile phones in health care surely has abundant room for growth, but considering that it’s a relatively new phenomenon1, the emphasis on evaluation and evidences is refreshing to see.
1mHealth interventions may have been around for a decade now, but it’s only been recently that so many individuals have had ready access to a mobile phone. Now if we could just get them the electricity to charge those phones….
2Here is an interesting website to find further mHealth interventions