mobile health

Scaling Up Mobile Health: Elements Necessary for the Successful Scale Up of mHealth in Developing Countries

Posted by AnneryanHeatwole on Dec 12, 2011
Scaling Up Mobile Health: Elements Necessary for the Successful Scale Up of mHealth in Developing Countries data sheet 577 Views
Jeannine Lemaire
Publication Date: 
Dec 2011
Publication Type: 
Report/White paper

The use of mobile phones to improve the quality of care and enhance efficiency of service delivery within healthcare systems is known as mobile health, or mHealth, and is a sub-segment of the broader field of electronic health (eHealth). WHO has defined mHealth as the “provision of health services and information via mobile technologies such as mobile phones and Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs).” mHealth tools have shown promise in providing greater access to healthcare to populations in developing countries, as well as creating cost efficiencies and improving the capacity of health systems to provide quality healthcare. 

Recent evidence from randomized scientific trials and studies has demonstrated that the capabilities of mobile phone technology, particularly SMS messaging, can positively impact treatment outcomes. Results of the WelTel Kenya1 clinical trial, the first study of its kind in Africa, were published in The Lancet in November of 2010. The trial focused on the impact of SMS messaging on HIV-infected adults starting antiretroviral therapy (ART) in three clinics in Kenya. The study showed that patients who received SMS support had significantly higher adherence to ART and higher rates of viral suppression when compared with patients in the control group. A scale up of such a mobile phone support system in Kenya could suppress viral loads in 26,000 extra people at the cost of less than USD 8 per person per year, according to Richard Lester of the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control and the study’s lead researcher. Another cluster-randomized trial at 107 rural facilities in Kenya found that SMS message reminders sent to health workers’ mobile phones improved and maintained their adherence to treatment guidelines for outpatient pediatric malaria in Kenya.

A multitude of mHealth solutions have emerged over the years in countries such as Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa, which are leading the way in using mobile health services, according to the Global Observatory for eHealth at the WHO. Getachew Sahlu of the WHO identified the convergence of the following factors as the driving force behind the current rapid mHealth growth in developing countries: (1) a record growth of mobile phone users, (2) rapid expansion of mobile networks, (3) the decline in mobile phone costs, and (4) the innovation in mobile technology. The mobile platform presents the unique capability of delivering healthcare services wherever people are—not just in healthcare facilities. mHealth initiatives have also been effective in reaching underserved populations, particularly those in rural areas, changing health behaviors and outcomes, and addressing a wide variety of healthcare challenges, including:

• The shortage of skilled healthcare workers in certain developing country settings
• Treatment adherence and compliance
• Lack of timely and actionable disease surveillance
• Poor drug inventory and supply chain management
• Use of counterfeit drugs
• Lack of medical diagnostic treatment
• Slow rates of information flow and reporting delays.

mHealth represents a cost-effective technology solution to many of these challenges if implemented correctly and brought to scale. The costs of mobile handsets and usage are declining as demand for mobile services increases and mobile networks are being rapidly expanded.


Mobiles for Quality Improvement Pilot in Uganda

Posted by jamesbt on Dec 02, 2011
Mobiles for Quality Improvement Pilot in Uganda data sheet 1017 Views
Pamela Riley and James BonTempo
Publication Date: 
Nov 2011
Publication Type: 
Report/White paper

USAID‘s Strengthening Health Outcomes through the Private Sector (SHOPS) project seeks to increase the role of the private sector in the sustainable provision and use of quality family planning/reproductive health and other health products and services. One of the areas of technical focus of the SHOPS project is to identify, deploy, and scale up promising uses of mobile technologies to improve health outcomes. Many developing countries have a severe shortage of health providers, and many of the providers who are working have only limited access to up-to-date clinical protocols, or face-to-face trainings. Mobile phones offer an innovative channel through which to provide cost-effective approaches for clinical training and support for improving quality of care.

SHOPS‘ partners Abt Associates, Jhpiego, and Marie Stopes International (MSI), collaborated in a mobile learning and performance support pilot called Mobiles for Quality Improvement (m4QI) conducted in Uganda during the period September 2010–August 2011. The goal of m4QI was to demonstrate the potential for positive behavioral change in service delivery by reinforcing face-to-face induction training lessons provided to Marie Stopes staff. Research supports the theory that spaced reinforcement of training combined with testing can significantly improve long-term knowledge retention and facilitate behavioral change.

The objectives of m4QI were to develop and test a technology-supported approach to performance improvement including processes for identifying performance gaps in adherence to clinical protocols, a platform to manage and automate the delivery and receipt of text message reminders and quizzes to address the gaps, and production of actionable data to improve effectiveness of supportive supervision and follow-up. To support scalability and replicability, the pilot platform was designed for users of low-end phones, and those without Internet access.


The Effectiveness of M-Health Technologies for Improving Health and Health Services: A Systematic Review Protocol

Posted by VivianOnano on Sep 30, 2011
The Effectiveness of M-Health Technologies for Improving Health and Health Services: A Systematic Review Protocol data sheet 1625 Views
Free,Caroline; Gemma Phillips; Lambert Felix; Leandro Galli; Vikram Patel; Philip Edwards.
Publication Date: 
Oct 2010
Publication Type: 
Report/White paper

The application of mobile computing and communication technology is rapidly expanding in the fields of health care and public health. This systematic review will summarise the evidence for the effectiveness of mobile technology interventions for improving health and health service outcomes (M-Health) around the world.


To be included in the review interventions must aim to improve or promote health or health service use and quality, employing any mobile computing and communication technology. This includes:

(1) interventions designed to improve diagnosis, investigation, treatment, monitoring and management of disease;

(2) interventions to deliver treatment or disease management programmes to patients, health promotion interventions, andinterventions designed to improve treatment compliance; and

(3) interventions to improve health care processes e.g. appointment attendance, result notification, vaccination reminders.


A comprehensive, electronic search strategy will be used to identify controlled studies, published since 1990, and indexed in MEDLINE, EMBASE, PsycINFO, Global Health, Web of Science, the Cochrane Library, or the UK NHSHealth Technology Assessment database. The search strategy will include terms (and synonyms) for the following mobile electronic devices (MEDs) and a range of compatible media: mobile phone; personal digital assistant (PDA); handheld computer (e.g. tablet PC); PDA phone (e.g. BlackBerry, Palm Pilot); Smartphone; enterprise digital assistant; portable media player (i.e. MP3 or MP4 player); handheld video game console. No terms for health or health service outcomes will be included, to ensure that all applications of mobile technology in public health and healthservices are identified.


Bibliographies of primary studies and review articles meeting the inclusion criteria will besearched manually to identify further eligible studies. Data on objective and self-reported outcomes and study quality will be independently extracted by two review authors. Where there are sufficient numbers of similar interventions, we will calculate and report pooled risk ratios or standardised mean differences using meta-analysis.


This systematic review will provide recommendations on the use of mobile computing and communication technology in health care and public health and will guide future work on intervention development and primary research in this field.

The Case of the Interdisciplinary Researcher: Using Mixed Methods to Observe ICT in Healthcare in Uganda

Posted by VivianOnano on Jul 26, 2011
The Case of the Interdisciplinary Researcher: Using Mixed Methods to Observe ICT in Healthcare in Uganda data sheet 1415 Views
Densmore, Melissa R.
Publication Date: 
Oct 2010
Publication Type: 
Report/White paper

While researchers are often depicted as either ‘social scientists’ or ‘technologists’ often their educational and ideological backgrounds are much richer than the two simple terms might imply.

This paper describes the methodology and approach of a qualitative researcher with a computer science background in investigating how information technology changes communications and information management practices within the health ecosystem constitutued by a health subsidy program in southwest Uganda.

Evaluating the Impact of Mobile Phone Based ‘Health Help Line’ Service in Rural Bangladesh

Posted by VivianOnano on Jul 11, 2011
Evaluating the Impact of Mobile Phone Based ‘Health Help Line’ Service in Rural Bangladesh data sheet 2031 Views
Dr Md. Ashraf, Mahfuz, Noushin Laila Ansari, Bushra Tahseen Malik, Barnaly Rashid.
Publication Date: 
Sep 2010
Publication Type: 
Report/White paper

Access to basic health  service is limited in rural areas of Bangladesh, where 80% of the total population lives. For instance, 35% of doctors and 30% of nurses are located in four metropolitan districts where only 14.5% of the population lives. Most of the rural people are physically remote from the qualified health care providers. Two major mobile phone service providers in Bangladesh have initiated mobile health care help line service s nationwide as a remedy in this case. Since there is much hope of mobile phones to be used for basic health care services for populations living in rural areas, this research aims to evaluate how far such interventions reached  for the improvement of health care in those communities. Through an interpretive case-based research strategy, our field studies uncover enthusiasm from the rural people towards availing health help line services and the intervention's contribution to improved health-seeking behavior.


Mobilizing Development: The UN Foundation and Vodafone Foundation Technology Partnership

Posted by kelechiea on Jun 28, 2011
Mobilizing Development: The UN Foundation and Vodafone Foundation Technology Partnership data sheet 1156 Views
Vodafone Foundation, United Nations Foundation
Publication Date: 
Jan 2011
Publication Type: 
Report/White paper

This report takes a journalistic rather than an academic approach. It aims to pique interest, provoke debate, and explore the ideas that emerged from a groundbreaking relationship. It also hopes both to accentuate the Technology Partnership’s many positive results while providing a sense of self-reflection that might benefit other potential partnerships.
Over half a decade of experimentation, the Technology Partnership encountered many challenges and saw a variety of outcomes – some successful, others less so. Some of those outcomes might have been improved by different design, but many were also an unavoidable consequence of a complex world of many players and the fast rate of
technological change.

What emerges clearly, however, is a moment of extraordinary and continued opportunity in which both the humanism of the UN and the action-oriented culture of the private sector will be essential. The potential of this cross-sector collaboration is demonstrated by the work of the UN Foundation and Vodafone Foundation. Public-private alliances of this kind require sacrifice and hard work but promise a significant boost to global efforts to improve human wellbeing.

Mobile Phones for Health Education in the Developing World: SMS as a User Interface

Posted by TextToChange on Mar 10, 2011
Mobile Phones for Health Education in the Developing World: SMS as a User Interface data sheet 2928 Views
Catalina M. Danis, Jason B. Ellis, Wendy A. Kellogg, Hajo van Beijma, Bas Hoefman, Steven D. Daniels, Jan-Willem Loggers
ISSN/ISBN Number: 
Publication Date: 
Jan 2011
Publication Type: 
Journal article

Uganda suffers from a severe shortage of professional healthcare workers. Thus, programs aimed at prevention of disease are an important complement to the limited healthcare delivery system.

We analyze two deployments of an SMS-based HIV/AIDS education system that uses a quiz format to assess people’s knowledge of the disease, including its causes and methods of prevention. The deployments were to two groups in Uganda, one a sample of mobile phone users who live in a town in northwest Uganda; the other, workers at three factories in central and southeastern Uganda. The two samples had accuracy rates above chance levels and workers at the three factories had higher rates of participation (more individuals and more questions) than the sample selected from the cell tower service area. An analysis of incorrect answers suggested that while participants had some difficulty in matching the formatting required by the quiz, literacy did not appear to be a significant problem.

We discuss the results in terms of implications for using SMS as a user interface mechanism and explore the possibility of using social ties among participants as a way to promote the scalability and sustainability of this quiz-based education method.

Lessons from m-Health Projects: The Tech is the Easy Part

Posted by AnneryanHeatwole on Mar 08, 2011

Adherence reminders, patient data transmission via community health workers, HIV/AIDs info services – mobile phones can be used in a variety of health settings. As mobiles have become cheaper and more easily available around the world, mobile health projects have followed, taking advantage of the devices’ data storage capabilities, information transferring potential, and social networking features.

MobileActive has covered the m-health area extensively as NGOs, aid organizations, and governments continue to launch new projects incorporating ICTs into their work. Organizations like the Praekelt Foundation, which runs multiple mobile health projects, Pesinet, a micro-insurance and community health worker data collection tool, Dimagi, which developed CommCare (a project that helps community health workers promote healthy behaviors in patients), and MoTeCH, a Grameen Foundation project that uses mobiles to send medical advice to pregnant women and young parents along with creating a data managing resource for community health workers, are exploring the potential that mobile technology offers for delivering health care.

Looking at some of these organizations’ experiences, we put together a list of key lessons organizations are learning as they develop m-health projects:

Barriers and Gaps Affecting mHealth in Low and Middle Income Countries: Policy White Paper

Posted by MarkWeingarten on Jan 19, 2011
Barriers and Gaps Affecting mHealth in Low and Middle Income Countries: Policy White Paper data sheet 1812 Views
Mechael, Patricia, Hima Batavia, Nadi Kaonga, Sarah Searle, Ada Kwan, Adina Goldberger, Lin Fu, and James Ossman
Publication Date: 
May 2010
Publication Type: 
Report/White paper

Still in its infancy, mHealth, the use of mobile technologies for health, runs the risk of not realizing its full potential due to small-scale implementations and pilot projects with limited reach. To help shed light on these issues, the mHealth Alliance commissioned an in-depth exploration of the policy barriers and research gaps facing mHealth. The review identified significant gaps in mHealth knowledge stemming from the limited scale and scope of mHealth implementation and evaluation, a policy environment that does not link health objectives and related metrics to available mHealth tools and systems, and little investment in cost-benefit studies to assess mHealth value and health outcomes research to assess success factors and weed out poor investments.

As illustrated throughout the literature, the current single-solution focus of mHealth needs to be replaced by using mHealth as an extension and integrator of underlying health information systems along the continuum of care. Creating a strong collaborative foundation will be instrumental in driving and positioning public and private investment in mHealth in a way that contributes to achieving improved access to health information and services, health outcomes, and efficiencies.

Within such structured paradigms, planning for infrastructure investment and human resources capacity strengthening and identifying public and private stakeholders within the ecosystem to take leadership for the development, testing, implementation, and evaluation of mHealth activities can be appropriately mapped and planned and mHealth services more effectively extended to support the health of citizens and the work of health professionals and administrators.

Research and Reality: Using Mobile Messages to Promote Maternal Health in Rural India

Posted by MarkWeingarten on Jan 13, 2011
Research and Reality: Using Mobile Messages to Promote Maternal Health in Rural India data sheet 1683 Views
Ramachandran, Divya, Vivek Goswami, and John Canny
Publication Date: 
Dec 2010
Publication Type: 
Report/White paper

Rural health workers in India do not always have the training, credibility or motivation to effectively convince clients to adopt healthy practices. To help build their efficacy, we provided them with messages on mobile phones to present to clients. We present a study which compared three presentations of persuasive health messages by health workers using a phonebased lecture-style message, a phone-based dialogic message that elicits user responses, or no additional aids.

We found that dialogic messages significantly improve the quality of counseling sessions and increase discussion between health workers and clients; however, we did not statistically measure an effect of either phone-based message on health behavioral outcomes. We analyze these results in light of the challenges we faced and compromises we made through the research process due to the interplay of social, cultural and environmental realities, and discuss how these factors affect ICTD projects at large.

Assessing the Scope for Use of Mobile-Based Solution to Improve Maternal and Child Health in Bangladesh: A Case Study

Posted by MarkWeingarten on Jan 12, 2011
Assessing the Scope for Use of Mobile-Based Solution to Improve Maternal and Child Health in Bangladesh: A Case Study data sheet 1526 Views
Alam, Mafruha, Tahmina Khanam, and Rubayat Khan
Publication Date: 
Jan 2010
Publication Type: 
Report/White paper

Patient data collection and emergency health service is the primary challenge in developing countries. Risk assessment of pregnant mother and healthcare based on priority is almost impossible in present health service of Bangladesh.

A pilot study was done in three urban slums of Dhaka where BRAC health workers were provided with mobiles. A smart algorithm was incorporated in the mobiles. The mobile solution came up with useful findings. The health workers now could send data directly to central MIS system which reduced previous time lag. A secure web page contained all the patient data which was accessible by BRAC Personnel from anywhere any time. An automated risk assessing decision tree categorized the patients depending on their risk levels for timely treatment.

The mobile solution proposed a pro-active, cost-effective platform for rapid health service for pregnant mothers and neonates with reduced manpower.

World AIDS Day: Battling the Disease with Mobile Tech

Posted by MelissaUlbricht on Dec 01, 2010

Today, December 1st, is World AIDS Day, a day that is all about raising awareness, countering prejudice, and helping stop the spread of HIV/AIDS. has put together some of the mobile projects and organizations we've covered recently that are innovating with mobile tech in the fight against HIV and AIDS.

RedChatZone: HIV Counseling via Mobile Instant Messaging Chat

This project is an innovative mobile-based platform for youth and young adults to learn more about HIV and to get support by offering them the ability to communicate anonymously and privately via MXit with a trained counselor. 

Voices From The Community And From You!

Posted by AnneryanHeatwole on Sep 29, 2010 turns five this fall. We think that this is a perfect time to highlight the creative and amazing practitioners in the m-4-change field. Our community of developers, organizers, advocates, field staff, researchers, donors, and many more is what makes this peer network so strong and vibrant.

We wanted to hear from you on where the field of 'mobiles for change' has been, where it's going, and how a community like can help along the way. So we called people around the world who have been in the field for a while to hear their thoughts. 

Marty Kearns (Green Media Toolshed), Brenda Burrell (Kubatana), Bukeni Waruzi (, Chris Spence (National Democratic Institute), Karen Doyle Grossman (Mercy Corps), and Ben Rigby (The Extraordinaries) shared their thoughts on three questions:

Sana Mobile: Connecting Big-City Care to Patients in Remote Villages

Posted by MohiniBhavsar on Sep 17, 2010
Sana Mobile: Connecting Big-City Care to Patients in Remote Villages data sheet 6103 Views

Decision making support for nurses and health workers, even when connectivity is poor or low, is possible with Sana Mobile, an Android-based mobile health application. Formerly known as Moca Mobile, the Sana technology facilitates remote consultations between health care specialists and community health workers in remote areas.

Sana Mobile started at MIT's NextLab, where developers, faculty and students collaborate to tackle a problem using mobile technology. The Sana technology was developed by Sidhant Jena, Sana team lead and Harvard Business School student and Russell Ryan, lead engineer and MIT student.

When general practitioners lack the expertise to diagnose a case, they refer patients to specialists, who may not be easily accessible. The Sana technology addresses the lack of accessibility to specialty care in places, where specialist doctors and tertiary care centers are sparse.

How does Sana Mobile work?

Basic Information
Organization involved in the project?: 
Project goals: 

One of the largest problems facing the developing world is a lack of trained physicians. While there is not a shortage of untrained or semi-trained workforce, many health workers in many developing nations are not able to dispense adequate care due to a lack of expertise.

The Sana technology seeks to address the lack of accessibility to specialty care in places, where specialist doctors and tertiary care centers are sparse.

Brief description of the project: 

Oral cancer is one of the most common cancers in India. It is related to the cultural practice of chewing paan masala and gutka, forms of chewing tobacco. It is estimated that about 40% of men and 15% of women chew tobacco on a regular basis. Detecting risk of oral cancer earlier is important for affordable treatment as late stage tumors can be very expensive to treat. To survey the risk of oral cancer in their community, Mazumdar Shaw Cancer Center and the Narayana Hrudayalaya Health to ran a pilot test in and around Bangalore over six months. One pilot was run in Belgaum, Raichur, a rural town about 12 hours away from the city of Bangalore. The other pilot was run in Bangalore. Equipped with the Sana application, ASHAs (community health workers) went door to door in and around Bangalore, asking questions and taking pictures of oral lesions, which were evaluated by oral surgeons. In six months, they were able to screen about 400 high-risk cancer patients and detected numerous lesions using Sana. Twenty ASHAs were trained in using the Sana software in Belgaum.

Target audience: 

For this pilot, risk of oral cancer was assessed for men and women chewing tobacco. But the Sana application is also being used to do a large scale risk assessment for cardiovascular disease, to screen maternal complications (e.g. preclampsia) and assess nutritional status of children.

Detailed Information
Length of Project (in months) : 
What worked well? : 
  • Sana invested in building local developer capacity in India. Local developers cost less than having an international technology consultant to conduct training.
  • Lots of enthusiasm from leaders at the Narayana Hrudayalaya hospital
  • Funding for Sana developers at MIT to travel to India to test and train users came from external support, not from program budget of the clients.
What did not work? What were the challenges?: 
  • Semi- to low-literacy amongst community health workers can be a challenge if an application is available in limited languages. CHWs in Belgaum did not speak Kannada (the local script) or English. Developers adapted Sana to replace text in the medical procedures with voice prompts and pictorial labels
  • Health workers/nurses were not familiar with the touchscreen and needed some additional training and practice in order to understand how to use it (i.e. using fingerpad or fingernail to enter data)
  • Cost of phone was a major limiting factor
  • Some resistance faced from physicians, who were not quick to adopt a technology-based work flow management tool
  • The Sana Team is a volunteer based organization, and it is difficult for the team of developers to contribute time resources, but they consistently offer feedback to Sana users on their google group.

Building an SMS Network into a Rural Healthcare System

Posted by MohiniBhavsar on Sep 01, 2010
Building an SMS Network into a Rural Healthcare System data sheet 2167 Views
Joshua Nesbit
Publication Date: 
Jan 2010
Publication Type: 

This guide provides an inexpensive way to create an SMS communications network to enable healthcare field workers as they serve communities and their patients. The steps are purposefully simple – the system is easy to set up, use and maintain.

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions:

1. Who might benefit from a text-based communications network?
2. What are the benefits for my hospital, clinic or organization and the people it serves?
3. What technology do I need?
4. Do I need an internet connection?
5. How expensive is an SMS network?
6. How do I distribute communication credit?
7. How much staff training is required?
8. How much time does it take, per day, to manage the SMS network?
9. How do I conduct SMS training?
10. What is the best power source for the cell phones?
11. Do the CHWs communicate with each other?
12. Where can I find more information on FrontlineSMS?

Barriers and Gaps Affecting mHealth in Low and Middle Income Countries: Policy White Paper

Posted by MohiniBhavsar on Aug 20, 2010
Barriers and Gaps Affecting mHealth in Low and Middle Income Countries: Policy White Paper data sheet 2299 Views
Mechael, P., Batavia, H., Kaonga, N., Searle, S., Kwan, A., Goldberger, A., Fu, L., Ossman, J.
Publication Date: 
May 2010
Publication Type: 
Report/White paper

This White Paper, written by a team of researchers at the Center for Global Health and Economic Development at the Earth Institute, Columbia University, examines and synthesizes the existing mHealth literature to assess the current state of mHealth knowledge, evaluate the impact of mHealth implementations in LMICs and to examine programming, policy and research-related barriers to and gaps in mHealth scale and sustainability.

The paper is divided into two main sections. The first section reviews and summarizes the peer-reviewed literature on mHealth initiatives (focus on LMICS) to highlight trends and challenges. The second section examines the existing mHealth policy environment, barriers and gaps, and key drivers needed for an enabling policy environment.

The major thematic areas include:

  • Treatment Compliance
  • Data Collection and Disease Surveillance
  • Health Information Systems and Point of Care Support
  • Health Promotion and Disease Prevention
  • Emergency Medical Response

The review identified significant gaps in mHealth knowledge stemming from the limited scale and scope of mHealth implementation and evaluation, a policy environment that does not link health objectives and related metrics to available mHealth tools and systems, and little investment in cost-benefit studies to assess mHealth value and health outcomes research to assess success factors and weed out poor investments.




The Case for mHealth in Developing Countries

Posted by MohiniBhavsar on Jul 09, 2010
The Case for mHealth in Developing Countries data sheet 2569 Views
Patricia N. Mechael
Publication Date: 
Jan 2009
Publication Type: 
Journal article

The aim of this paper is to encourage reflection and discussion around the
potential of mHealth in developing countries and to consider how early experiences
can inform the way forward. Toward this aim, I synthesize many reviews and
presentations from the eight years I have been studying the evolution of mobile
phones and health in developing countries. I include observations and discussions
that are now shaping the creation of mHealth as a field, to highlight the ingredients
we need to move from a series of pilot projects and isolated business opportunities
to a full-scale maximization of health-related benefits.

I begin by reviewing the strategic priorities within global health, where mobile
telephony can have the greatest impact, along with organic health-related uses of
mobile phones, and examples of formal mHealth interventions. I then demonstrate
the potential for mobile phones to become an extension and an integral
component of eHealth, describing how information and communication technology
(ICT) can be used in health care, as well as mHealth, as a subset of mServices:
using mobile devices to deliver services such as banking and health. I also show
how trends and interests are converging among key stakeholders within the
mHealth ecosystem, thus forming a foundation on which we can scale up and sustain
more and better mHealth activities. Finally, I present some tactical guidance
for a way forward that will further the objectives of both public health and business,
particularly in outreach efforts to emerging markets, the bottom of the pyramid,
and the next billion mobile phone subscribers.

Text Messaging as a Tool for Behavior Change in Disease Prevention and Management

Posted by on May 18, 2010
Text Messaging as a Tool for Behavior Change in Disease Prevention and Management data sheet 3580 Views
Heather Cole-Lewis and Trace Kershaw
Publication Date: 
Mar 2010
Publication Type: 
Journal article

Mobile phone text messaging is a potentially powerful tool for behavior change because it is widely available, inexpensive, and instant.

This systematic review provides an overview of behavior change interventions for disease management and prevention delivered through text messaging. Evidence on behavior change and clinical outcomes was compiled from randomized or quasi-experimental controlled trials of text message interventions published in peer-reviewed journals by June 2009. Only those interventions using text message as the primary mode of communication were included. Study quality was assessed by using a standardized measure. Seventeen articles representing 12 studies (5 disease prevention and 7 disease management) were included. Intervention length ranged from 3 months to 12 months, none had long-term follow-up, and message frequency varied.

Of 9 sufficiently powered studies, 8 found evidence to support text messaging as a tool for behavior change. Effects exist across age, minority status, and nationality. Nine countries are represented in this review, but it is problematic that only one is a developing country, given potential benefits of such a widely accessible, relatively inexpensive tool for health behavior change.

Methodological issues and gaps in the literature are highlighted, and recommendations for future studies are provided. 


Text Messaging as a Tool for Behavior Change in Disease Prevention and Management

Posted by AnneryanHeatwole on May 16, 2010

On March 30th, Epidemiologic Reviews published a paper entitled “Text Messaging as a Tool for Behavior Change in Disease Prevention and Management.” Written by Heather Cole-Lewis and Trace Kershaw, the paper reviews previously published data to assess the potential for mobile phones to be used in disease management and prevention.

Comprised of data from 17 articles representing 12 studies (five of which focused on disease prevention and seven of which focused on disease management), the authors draw conclusions on the effectiveness of using mobile phones (and more specifically, text messaging on mobile phones) to change health behaviors. 

Text Messaging as a Tool for Behavior Change in Disease Prevention and Management data sheet 7963 Views
Countries: Finland France New Zealand South Korea United Kingdom United States

MoTeCH: mHealth Ethnography Report

Posted by LeighJaschke on Sep 10, 2009
MoTeCH: mHealth Ethnography Report data sheet 1567 Views
Mechael, Patricia N.; Dodowa Health Research Center
Publication Date: 
Aug 2009
Publication Type: 
Report/White paper

The number of mobile phone subscriptions has increased by approximately one billion between the end of 2007 and the end of 2008 (ITU, 2009).  At the beginning of 2009, the number has surpassed four billion.  With this, the use of mobile phones and networks in the mobile health has become increasingly popular in low- and middle-income countries, including Ghana where a broad range of mHealth initiatives are now being implemented. 

This offers many opportunities to translate information and communications technology into gains, particularly for fighting disease and improving population health.  This mHealth Ethnography serves as a critical entry point to both assess the initial state of information, communication, and mobile phone use for maternal and newborn health both within the health sector and the general population in the Dangme West District in the Greater Accra Region of Ghana. 

Key study findings illustrate that there is a strong foundation upon which the MoTECH Project can build to advance the use of mobile telephony to support the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals for health.  These can be divided into two broad categories – those within the health sector and those that extend services to target beneficiaries in the general population. 

Piloting mHealth: A Research Scan

Posted by eblynn on Aug 18, 2009
Piloting mHealth: A Research Scan data sheet 2381 Views
Emily Blynn
Publication Date: 
Aug 2009
Publication Type: 
Report/White paper

With the continued expansion of mobile technology around the globe, and the persistent lack of universal Internet connectivity, the use of mobile phones in public health presents a new opportunity to improve health services delivery. This intersection of mobile technology and public health, known as m-health, offers four distinct applications for international development, including drug adherence and remote monitoring, remote dissemination of information, data collection and disease outbreak surveillance, and diagnostic treatment and support.

Several programs have addressed these m-health applications, but those that are most effective utilize open-source coding, are not reliant upon the Internet, and have great potential for scalability.

Patricia Mechael: Millennium Villages, Women and Mobile Health

Posted by KatrinVerclas on Aug 09, 2008

In our series of interviews from the Bellagio conference on mobile health, here is David Sasaki's last interview with Patricia Mechael who is coordinating the mobile strategy for the Millennium Village Project. She talks about mobile adoption, user-centric design, women and mobiles, how Millennium Villages is using mobiles to improve health outcomes, and what she sees as the next big projects in mobile health.

David Oso:  You have worked in a number of countries -- Egypt, Sudan, the UK, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Mozambique, Russia, Rwanda, the list keeps going on and on. How are cell phones used differently in these different countries where you've worked?

Krishnan Ganapathy: Without India There is No mHealth

Posted by dsasaki on Jul 31, 2008

Krishnan Ganapathy, a practicing neurosurgeon, is the former president of the Neurological Society of India and current president of the Apollo Telemedicine Networking Foundation. He is also the co-founder of the Telemedicine Society of India, a member of the National Task Force on Telemedicine and an adjunct professor at IIT Madras and at Anna University. He is currently involved in preliminary studies on the clinical evaluation of patients based in rural areas of India, Bhutan, and Bangladesh using wireless telephony. Along with his colleague Aditi Ravindra, Dr. Ganapathy is one of the leading thinkers on mobile health in India and around the world.

What follows is an edited, abridged transcribe from a conversation we had at Rockefeller's Making the eHealth Connection conference. An MP3 of our entire discussion is available for download.

DS: A lot of people don't have an understanding of what mHealth is, what telemedicine is, and how mobile phones are being used by physicians, surgeons, and health care professionals. You've been on the cutting edge of all this for a long time ... can you talk to me about how the way you treat patients has changed over the years with the use of mobile phones?

Krishnan Ganapathy

Cell-Life Update: Using Mobiles to Fight HIV/AIDS

Posted by CorinneRamey on Jul 31, 2008

In South Africa, mobile phones and HIV/AIDS are two pervsasive realities. Some 75% percent of  children and adults in the country have mobile phones, and according to the National HIV Survey, 10.8% of people over two years old are living with HIV. Almost 1,000 AIDS deaths occur every day. Cell-Life, an NGO based in Cape Town, aims to address this growing AIDS epidemic by using mobile phones.

Cell-Life's "Cellphones for HIV" project continues with two new pilot projects. In one pilot, Cell-Life will collaborate with the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) in the Western Cape to provide information to communicty trainers and the wider HIV community. In the second pilot, Cell-Life will work with Soul City, which uses television and radio dramas to discuss issues such as social norms, health, and HIV/AIDS.

Berhane Gebru: Disease Surveillance with Mobile Phones in Uganda

Posted by dsasaki on Jul 30, 2008

Berhane Gebru is Program Director at AED-SATELLIFE, an international organization which aims to strengthen health care in resource-poor countries by providing disease surveillance solutions and health information distribution to rural healthcare workers using mobile technology. He took some time out from this week's meeting on mHealth and Mobile Telemedicine to describe SATELLIFE's current project in Uganda which equips rural health workers with PDA's and GPRS wireless access points in order to transmit their health data collection to the ministry of health. We also discuss an upcoming project, currently being field-tested, which would allow those same health care workers to make their disease surveillance reports using simple mobile phones.[Editor's note:  A full case study of AED Satellife's project is written up in our recent report "Wireless Technology for Social Change," commissioned by the UNF/Vodafone Group Foundation Technology Partnership]

At the bottom of the post you can download an audio recording of our entire 20-minute conversation. This is an edited and abridged transcription.

Berhane Gebru