mHealth

  • Blog post

    This post originally appeared on The Huffington Post.

    Monrovia during the Ebola crisis

    Downtown Monrovia—usually bustling with people—was nearly empty in the middle of the Ebola crisis. Photo Credit: Leah McManus

    For most of us, only a handful of moments will etch themselves forever into our memories. For me, one came when I learned that Ebola had broken out in West Africa.

    It was December 2013 and I was watching the news. The ticker tape across the bottom of the screen confirmed an outbreak in Guinea. The news anchor didn't even mention it.

    Then I watched from afar as the epidemic spread out of control and crossed the border into Liberia, a country I call my second home.

  • Blog post

    This blog post originally appeared on IntraHealth's blog Vital

    If anything positive has come out of the ongoing Ebola crisis in West Africa, it’s that we can finally put to rest a longstanding debate—namely, whether it’s more effective in global health to focus on specific issues (such as HIV and maternal health), or to take a systems-based approach, looking at the whole of a country’s capacity to provide health care to its people.

    Ebola has given us our answer: we need both.

  • Blog post
    ORB promo

    #mPoweringORB 
    Credit: Liz Eddy, MCSP

    Note: This has been cross-posted and adapted from mPowering Frontline Health Workers.

    Today, mPowering Frontline Health Workers (mPowering) announces the launch of ORB, an online content platform that will play a major role in improving the performance of hundreds of thousands of frontline health workers.

    ORB is the first comprehensive online library of high quality, mobile-optimized, openly licensed training materials for frontline health workers. Through relevant, timely training materials and information, ORB helps frontline workers access the knowledge they need to transform health outcomes for millions of women and children.

  • Blog post
    Image by James BonTempo in one of the sessions at the 2014 Global mHealth Forum.

    Image by James BonTempo in one of the sessions at the 2014 Global mHealth Forum.

    It is hard to believe it’s already been two months since the Global mHealth Forum. The inaugural event, an effort of the mHealth Working Group’s Advisory Board in collaboration with the Personal Connected Health Alliance, was co-located at the mHealth Summit. The Forum exceeded all expectations, attracting more than 500 participants from 50 countries for two chockfull days of panels, roundtables, posters, demos, meet-ups and all manner of formal and informal gatherings.

    At this point, we (the mHealth Working Group Advisory Board) are already well into the conversation to determine what to do for the next Forum. But what if you weren’t able to attend this past December? Or you were there but weren’t able to sit in on all of the great sessions? No need to worry! There are several ways that you can catch up on what transpired.

  • Blog post

    Before the 2014 Global mHealth Forum, if you’d asked me to draft a budget for developing and deploying a mHealth solution, I’d have shrugged and thought, “Sure. Piece of cake.”  As a program manager and someone with a fair amount of experience in mHealth, I would have felt confident mapping out a process and assigning a budget to each step. Then, at the Forum, I had the opportunity to attend an interactive session in the Finance Track that made me consider how my personal perspective could affect budgeting. The session, titled “What Does mHealth Really Cost? Understanding the Question,” was presented by Eric Couper of Abt Associates and Jonathan Jackson of Dimagi, Inc. and intended to teach people the importance of preparing a reasonable budget for a mHealth solution. My biggest takeaway was how necessary it is to include many roles and perspectives in the decision-making process.

    We were broken up into groups, given a case study of an mHealth intervention in Guatemala, and told to determine a budget for a one-year intervention that moved through the steps of design, development, test, train, and deploy. The staff roles they identified for the activity were an expat project manager, an expat lead designer, a local IT manager, a local trainer, and an expat trainer.

  • Blog post
    A statue in Yola, Adamawa State. © 2007 Jarret Cassaniti

    A statue in Yola, Adamawa State. © 2007 Jarret Cassaniti

    This blog post originally appeared on a LinkedIn blog on January 26, 2015 and has been slightly modified for the K4Health blog. 

    Two atrocities were committed earlier this month, one in France and the other in Nigeria. As an article in Time magazine explains, the attack in France garnered more attention in America because it was, in both senses of the phrase, closer to home. Prolonged news coverage last April of a mass kidnapping in Nigeria by Boko Haram turned out to be an exception; the attention didn’t last and the girls have not been found. As Boko Haram continues its devastating rampages, presidential campaigning hits the home stretch and Nigerians wonder what Election Day, scheduled for February 14, will bring.

    As a business traveler to Nigeria, I take notice when Boko Haram strikes. But Boko Haram was not a concern during my first trip to Nigeria in 2007, as an Emory University graduate student, because it had not yet been established. What did concern me, though, was the political and ethnic violence in Jos, Plateau State, the dynamics of which foreshadowed my research with nomadic groups in Adamawa State, where Boko Haram is now active.

  • Blog post
    A health post in Northeast Nigeria. © 2007 Jarret Cassaniti.

    A health post in Northeast Nigeria. © 2007 Jarret Cassaniti. 

    This blog post originally appeared on a LinkedIn Blog on January 17, 2015 and has been slightly modified for the K4Health blog. 

    At the mHealth Summit last month, a panelist spoke about “flipping the clinic” and fanning the flames of change. Flipping might best be known as a derogatory gesture or, in somewhat better light, as a real estate tactic that contributed to the housing crisis of 2008.

    Of course the panelist, Dr. Michael Painter, Senior Program Officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), was talking about something different. He was talking about flipping the clinic in the way that innovating educators have changed their teaching methods.

  • Blog post
    A young girl uses a cell phone at a market in Ghana. © 2006 Joitske Hulsebosch, Courtesy of Photoshare.

    A young girl uses a cell phone at a market in Ghana. © 2006 Joitske Hulsebosch, Courtesy of Photoshare.

    People often assume that, as a woman under 30, I must be a technology expert—based on no other credential than my age. While I may tire of explaining what an app is or how to tweet, the truth is that young people are in fact the largest consumers of new technology. In the last five years, the number of mobile phone subscribers worldwide has doubled to almost six billion, of which nearly a third are under the age of 30. Growth in mobile phone use has been particularly high in low- and middle-income countries, where an estimated 80 percent of future subscribers—including millions of technologically-savvy youth—reside.

    This growing population presents both opportunities and challenges for development, and underscores the need for greater investment in youth health. Given the high penetration of mobile phone use among young people, targeting them with mobile health (mHealth) interventions seems like a “no-brainer.” Yet, it has taken some time for the global health and development community to realize that young people represent interested consumers and early adopters of mHealth tools. To date, there are still only a limited number of programs that directly target youth. However, at this year’s Global mHealth Forum at the mHealth Summit, youth were front and center.

  • Blog post
    A sign advertises mobile phone sales in Malawi. © 2008 Josh Nesbit, Courtesy of Photoshare

    © 2008 Josh Nesbit, Courtesy of Photoshare.

    What does local ownership of an electronic health (eHealth) or mobile health (mHealth) service look like?  Depending on who you ask, you could probably get a thousand different answers. As a member of the mHealth Working Group Advisory Board and one of the organizers of the inaugural Global mHealth Forum, I hoped we could foster meaningful discussion about this very topic—and I think we succeeded.

    All of us working in eHealth and mHealth in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) understand that it is crucial to foster a sense of local ownership in order for a digital health solution to become sustainable. And yet, it can be difficult to reach agreement on what “local ownership” means. To one person, it could mean that you presented your mHealth concept to a group of stakeholders in-country and they signed off. To someone else, it could refer to an idea that was born in-country and realized with external project resources. Or it could refer to a scenario where an entire service was developed, implemented, and funded with local resources—both human and financial. I went to the Forum hoping to hear fewer examples of the former and more of the latter.

  • Blog post
    © 2011 Johns Hopkins University Global mHealth Initiative, Courtesy of Photoshare

    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.

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