Although mobile health technology has the potential to assist community health workers in low- and middle-income countries, there have been few formal evaluations of the tools in such settings, according to a review published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, FierceMobileHealthcare reports.
Examples of Mobile Health Projects
The review described existing mobile health projects in low- and middle-income countries and found that the most common initiatives involve one-way text messages and phone reminders about:
- Follow-up appointments;
- Healthy behaviors; and
- Data gathering.
It also found that community health workers use mobile applications as:
- Job aides;
- Clinical decision support tools; and
- Data submission and instant feedback mechanisms.
Lack of Formal Evaluations
The review noted that there is "vast documentation of project process evaluations" for the mobile health initiatives. However, it found that researchers have conducted few formal evaluations showing how the mobile health projects have affected clinical outcomes.
The study stated that "there is great potential to improve health services delivery by using [mobile health] in low- and middle-income countries." However, it added that "a key challenge is moving [mobile health] approaches from pilot projects to national scalable programs while properly engaging health workers and communities in the process" (Slabodkin, FierceMobileHealthcare, 1/28).