mHEALTH-INNOVATE (31) What factors particularly contribute to mobile phone use making a positive impact on health care processes or on health outcomes?

19 April, 2022

HIFA Colleagues

Mobile phones can be used to support health care processes and hopefully improve health outcomes. Although there are some encouraging examples (see for instance some cited in the HIFA papers: Mobile health-care information for all: a global challenge, and Universal access to essential health information: accelerating progress towards universal health coverage and other SDG health targets; ) the evidence about the impact of mHealth interventions on health outcomes is quite mixed (see e.g. WHO Guideline Recommendations on Digital Interventions for Health System Strengthening: Evidence and Recommendations; ).

The recent Cochrane review of 43 studies mostly from LMICs (Health workers’ perceptions and experiences of using mHealth technologies to deliver primary healthcare services: a qualitative evidence synthesis; see _ ) suggested one reason for this was that mHealth programmes comprise many interlinking components, with varying mix and impact, so it may be unrealistic to expect consistent positive outcomes from mHealth programmes: ‘Mobile health interventions are a combination of device and health worker, each with unique attributes, but also jointly, that impact clients' health behaviours, and how primary health care is supported and delivered... The effectiveness of these programmes results from the interplay between technology, context, and the human attributes of clients and health workers.’

So that leads to the question - in your experience what factors particularly contribute to mobile phone use making a positive impact on health care processes or on health outcomes?

Geoff Royston

HIFA profile: Geoff Royston is an Independent Health Analyst and Researcher, former Head of Strategic Analysis and Operational Research in the Department of Health for England, and Past President of the UK Operational Research Society. His work has focused on informing the design, implementation and evaluation of policies and programmes in health and social care, and on fostering the capabilities of others to work in these areas. Associated activities have included modelling for understanding the performance of complex systems, analysis and communication of risk, and horizon scanning and futures thinking. He has also worked on information and communication technology in the health sector, notably in leading the design and national launch of the telephone and online health information and advice service NHS Direct. He has served on both scientific and medical UK Research Council panels, and as an impact assessor for the UK higher education Research Excellence Framework. He is a member of the editorial board for the journal Health Care Management Science and in 2012 was Guest Editor for its special issue on Global Health. He has been a consultant for the World Health Organisation, is a long standing member of the EURO Working Group on Operational Research Applied to Health Services, and is an expert adviser to the mHIFA (mobile Healthcare Information for All) programme. He is also a member of the main HIFA Steering Group and the HIFA working group on Evaluating the Impact of Healthcare Information.

geoff.royston AT