mHealth interventions in low- and middle-income countries
Citation: White A, Thomas DSK, Ezeanochie N, et al. Health worker mHealth utilization: a systematic review. Computers, Informatics, Nursing 2016; 34: 206-13
What is this? The COVID-19 pandemic is placing a strain on healthcare systems and healthcare workers. Existing research on the use of mobile technology applications for health (mHealth) might provide useful information for policy makers to help with this.
In this systematic review, the authors searched for research into mHealth interventions (text messaging, text and voice messaging, electronic medical records, smartphone applications and personal data assistants) targeted at healthcare workers in low- and middle-income countries. They restricted their search to articles published in English between March 2009 and May 2015. They included 14 articles related to health data collected at a patient visit to facilitate patient care, 7 articles related to communication between a health worker and patient, 12 articles related to communication between health workers and 6 articles related to data collection for surveillance or research-based purposes.
What was found: Mobile technology tools, such as smartphones and tablets, have benefits for healthcare workers and their patients and improve healthcare delivery in low- and middle-income countries, but the effects on health outcomes are uncertain.
mHealth interventions facilitated better communication with patients and led to fuel and time savings for health workers and patients in low- and middle-income countries.
Texts and phone calls between community and clinic-based health workers improved skills and confidence, communication, health outcomes and adherence to treatment protocols in low- and middle-income countries.
Key barriers to the use of mHealth interventions included problems with internet or electricity supply, high initial costs, technical problems, fear of theft and confidentiality issues.
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