Knowledge Sharing from the Global mHealth Forum

mHealth

Heidi Good Boncana

CCP | mHealth Portfolio Manager
mHealthknowledge.org is K4Heath’s curated collection of key resources for the digital health community.

mHealthknowledge.org is K4Heath’s curated collection of key resources for the digital health community.

After a rich two days attending the Global mHealth Forum in November, my mind is full, and my professional focus is rededicated to understanding, sourcing, sharing, and implementing appropriate digital solutions to improve access to health and information. Working for the Knowledge for Health (K4Health) Project, I tend to think in terms of knowledge management for mHealth: sharing information to help others find digital health resources and information to use in reaching their objectives.

The Global mHealth Forum connected global health and development practitioners working in low- and middle-income countries to people, products and ideas. Hundreds of experts, students, technologists, health strategists, donors, and medical professionals convened to share lessons learned, implementation challenges, ideas for integration and scale-up, and more.

The mHealth Assessment and Planning for Scale (MAPS) toolkit is a self-assessment tool that guides project teams when scaling up their innovations.
The mHealth Assessment and Planning for Scale (MAPS) toolkit is a self-assessment tool that guides project teams when scaling up their innovations.

In the coming weeks and months, we will continue to add essential new resources to mHealth Knowledge—K4Heath’s curated collection of key resources for the digital health community. This includes newly developed tools, guides, platforms, hardware, communities of practice, content, and eLearning opportunities, as well as the mHealth Assessment and Planning for Scale (MAPS) toolkit from the World Health Organization/The United Nations Foundation/Johns Hopkins University Global mHealth Initiative collaboration, and newly published grey literature on mHealth Evidence from established organizations such as MAMA, MSH, and BBC Media Action.

Not as easily shared are the discussions left lingering from engaging presentations by experts across the field. Here is a brief recap:

  • The Principles of Digital Development are like rules for the sandbox. They ask us, "What are we trying to achieve? How do we get there?" 
  • There are numerous terrific examples of innovative, community-health focused solutions including: ORB, the recently-launched open-source content sharing platform from mPowering Frontline Health Workers, which connects health workers and training organizations with mobile optimized training content and job aids; Gyan Joti, an app that gives rural health workers a portable library of family planning materials to study and share with their clients; and mSakhi, an Interactive Mobile Phone-Based Job Aid for accredited community-based health workers.
  • There remains a critical need for aggregation and standardization of health data.
  • Turning a profit is not a bad thing: we should look more systematically and strategically at corporate partners as well as solution providers using layered, turnkey tools like Dimagi, eMocha, Akvoflow, TaroWorks, Magpi, FrontlineSMS.
  • How can we explore more efficient ways of data collection, such as crowd sourcing? Performance Monitoring and Accountability 2020 (PMA2020) is doing just this by using innovative mobile technology to routinely gather data on family planning and water sanitation collected at both household and facility levels via mobile phones through a network of female primary data collectors trained by local universities and research organizations.
  • What are the models that will drive innovation and sustain results? (How do we achieve scale but economize and stabilize? Who pays recurring costs? How can funding be sustained longer than a one, three, or five-year donor funding cycle?)
  • How do we build creative and innovative ecosystems that will provide continued value at scale?
  • A critical need remains for mobile platforms that place control of health care in the hands of the consumer in low- and middle-income countries.
  • What financial forecast models can we tap into to build better, faster, stronger, cheaper mobile apps? 

Did you attend the mHealth Forum this year? Do you have a resource to share on mHealth Knowledge? We would love to hear from you!