JMTM Editorial Volume 4 (2015) Issue 1
1Chief Editor, Journal of Mobil Technology in Medicine; 2Ophthalmology Registrar, Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital, Melbourne, Australia
Journal MTM 4:1:1, 2015
It is with great pleasure that we present in this first issue of 2015 a compendium of publications outlining the global impact of mHealth applications, particularly in developing countries.
The perspective piece by Germann and Franz articulates the challenges that need to be met in order for mHealth to be utilised and upscaled in low resource resource settings. Whilst low-resource countries clearly have great potential to benefit from expansion of mHealth applications, the authors outline key barriers for mHealth expansion in developing regions. They highlight the imperative for strong governance. Critical elements identified include appropriate planning, consideration of feasibility, strengthening private and government partnerships in mHealth projects, and ensuring there is a dynamic auditing process that can record the effectiveness and identify areas for improvement during a project. The authors cite the example of ‘mTrac’, an e-Health initiative overseen by the Ugandan Ministry of Health which is a central auditing and data collection tool to monitor community based projects within their country. The tool is intended to assist in collection, verification of quality and reliability, and ultimately in analysis of data collected across mHealth projects. Whilst the tool is being disseminated in preliminary phases across the country, it demonstrates a change in paradigm particularly from within low-resource countries to improve quality and rigour of data collection and analysis.
Whilst there is an escalating demand for mHealth, the emphasis must now shift to quality of evidence rather than quantity. This is particularly important given it is these low-resource areas where there is a clear demand for data regarding effectiveness of mHealth interventions yet a definite paucity of high quality evidence.1 The publication of Germann anf Franz echo similar themes highlighted previously in our Journal by Bullen regarding the importance of planning, consideration of local factors affecting feasibility, and the tantamount importance of governance in the success of translating mHealth initiatives to real-world functional projects.2 Similarly, an independent report conducted by Price Waterhouse Coopers on the emergence of mHealth outlined that the key principles for upscaling mHealth included finding applications that bring concrete value to stakeholders, the imperative to engage multiple stakeholders at a national level, and to focus on solutions rather than technology.3 Thus, in order to realise the full potential of mHealth there must be a weight of high quality evidence in order to engage the attention of government and non-government investors, and most importantly, patients and communities.
1. Free C, Phillips G, Watson L, et al. The effectiveness of mobile-health technologies to improve health care service delivery processes: a systematic review and meta-analysis. PLoS medicine. 2013;10(1):e1001363.