5 mHealth Solutions that Bridge the Gap between Innovative Technology and Consumer Adoption
By Minal Bopaiah
A recent JAMA article examining the accuracy of wearable devices highlights an underlying problem that pervades much of the health industry: adoption.
The article authors discuss how pedometers have seen low adoption by consumers, even though studies have shown that these devices do help with health goals. Yet, the wearable devices that sync with smartphones have seen widespread adoption since two-thirds of adults in the United States have a smartphone.
In global health, we often see this disconnect between innovative technology and adoption. Or, on the other hand, we see technology that doesn’t fit into a person’s daily routine, making it an impractical solution.
It’s important that global health organizations keep the disconnect between technological advancement and consumer adoption in mind when innovating for health solutions.
Here are five recent mobile health (mHealth) solutions that we believe strike the balance between innovation and pragmatics:
- In Ghana, the MOTECH mobile midwife program lets pregnant women register to receive voice message reminders during their pregnancy.
- In Cambodia, simple text messaging is making it possible for community health workers to communicate with world health organizations and track malaria outbreaks more efficiently.
- In India, mobile phones are being used to reduce health worker absenteeism, allowing populations that are usually marginalized to hold their health care professionals accountable.
- In Myanmar, PSI partnered with mobile network Ooredoo and KoeKoe, a Myanmar tech-startup, to create the MayMay app, which periodically sends push notifications about pregnancy, maternal health and child health to expectant mothers.
- In Guatemala, text messaging was combined with gamification and soap opera-like storytelling to educate sex workers about HIV/AIDS and other sexually-transmitted diseases.
As you may have noticed, most of these mobile health solutions use fairly basic technology, such as SMS or text messaging. That’s important when working in developing countries, where data limits are low or expensive for most populations.
As with any global health intervention, studying the lifestyle, resources and attitudes of a community is critical to creating a market for any innovative mobile health solution. And combining basic technology with proven behavior change communication strategies, like soap opera-like narratives and gamification, can compound the positive impact of every mobile health program.
And when looking to scale, make sure to search for solutions that “work for all” by reducing redundancies, integrating services, and responding to emergencies. Find out more about how Accenture Development Partnerships uses big data with its mobile health initiative in Africa.
Photo credit: Koe Koe Tech.February 24, 2015