Over 5 billion people now have access to mobile phones, with 445 million subscribers in Sub Sahara Africa, according to GSMA statistics. The appeal of mobile phones is that they allow individuals to contact each other irrespective of time and place. This is particularly beneficial for the delivery of healthcare services in remote areas where mobile communication devices are able to reach more people, faster.
The field of mHealth (or Mobile Health) has emerged in recent years, as largely an application of eHealth for developing countries, driven by the increase in mobile connectivity. mHealth projects operate with a variety of objectives, such as increasing access to healthcare and health-related information; improving the ability to diagnose and track diseases; providing timelier, more actionable public health information; and expanded access to ongoing medical education and training for health workers.
With the availability of low-cost smartphones, the growth of mobile phone networks globally, and the increasing availability of the mobile internet, tens of millions of people that never had regular access to a fixed-line telephone or computers now use mobile devices as daily tools for communication and data transfer. Mobile communication offers an effective means of bringing healthcare services to developing-country citizens.
mHealth Programs will typically aim to achieve some mix of the following:
Programs to raise awareness about a disease
Programs focusing on implementing prevention strategies
Programs focusing on screening populations for possible disease
Programs focusing on getting patients diagnosed earlier
Programs focusing on educating patients or health workers
Programs focusing on skills training of health care workers
Programs focusing on connecting patients with the continuum of care
Programs focusing on getting patients on treatment & improving adherence
Programs to geo-track disease and epidemic outbreaks
Monitoring & Evaluation is a key part of any mHealth program
Programs focusing on providing palliative care and pain relief
Programs that provide support for health care workers and carers
mHealth programs are typically multi-channel solutions made up of some mix of the following channels: