A woman in Bangladesh uses her mobile phone. © 2011 Johns Hopkins University Global mHealth Initiative, Courtesy of Photoshare
Much was said at the inaugural Global mHealth Forum in Washington, DC, December 10-11, about bringing mHealth innovations and programs “to scale.” From harnessing interoperability to building local capacity, the buzzword I heard during the plenary, concurrent sessions, fireside chats, and even side events, was scale.
In order to really scale up successful pilots and support efficient and effective implementation of mHealth programs, whether they be data collection and mapping new Ebola cases using basic mobile phones or sophisticated diagnostic testing to diagnose pneumonia via smart phones and tablets, we must work in an environment of collaboration. To truly scale up, partners and stakeholders need to communicate with each other about governance processes, technology structures, results, and best practices.
But haven’t you heard this before? Of course; yet, we are failing to achieve scale in many instances. One of the most inspiring conversations I attended was the afternoon session on December 11, “Scale up Starts with Design.” We may traditionally think of design as the technological development of an mHealth application or the creation of a catchy logo, but these conversations focused on designing a program from the standpoint of application stakeholder engagement for implementation. Several presenters talked openly and honestly about investing in collaboration to truly understand people and their agendas.