Landscape Analysis

© 2013 melbords, Courtesy of Photoshare

At this point in the process, you have determined that, in concept, mHealth is relevant to help reach your desired results. The next question is, “Will this work in the intended location?” Your mHealth solution must work within the reality of your program’s setting. An mHealth solution that works in one place might not work in another—even if those two places are in the same country. To answer this question, you will need to complete a landscape analysis along two dimensions:

  1. Explore key considerations about the mobile technology landscape where your effort would take place; and 
  2. Explore key considerations about the existing mHealth landscape and efforts already taking place in your program setting.

To get started, learn about and meet with key stakeholders within the ecosystem in which the mHealth innovation will operate. Networking—with stakeholders, local officials, technology providers, implementing partners, and community organizations—is an effective tactic for learning from others’ experience, generating interest and ideas, and creating opportunities for collaboration.

Other sources of information include online forums and listservs, such as those offered through the mHealth Working Group, Vital Wave Consulting, GSM Association (GSMA), and mHealthinfo.org. Many of these groups post useful resources on their websites that could potentially inform a project's landscape analysis. For example, the GSMA published a 2013 report titled Scaling Mobile for Development: A Developing World Opportunity that provides insights to faciltate mHealth service delivery in low- and middle-income countries. In 2013-2014, GSMA started to publish a series of country feasibility reports (Malawi 2014, Nigeria 2014, and South Africa 2013). They plan to publish similar reports for mHealth in Cote D'Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia.

THE EXPERTS SAY...

“It is important to coordinate between projects. We come across health workers who are involved in several mHealth projects and, as a result, have several phones. If implementing partners were coordinating with each other in this case, they could have ensured that resources were not wasted on buying multiple phones for each health worker.” - Jeanne Koepsell, Save the Children

“Connectivity can be spotty, and even with good coverage, connectivity will fluctuate. This becomes an issue for mHealth programs that are designed to collect and transmit data over the cellular network. Sometimes it doesn’t work well. We had to create a Plan B: store the data in the device or on a laptop, then transmit it when there is a connection.”- Berhane Gebru, Uganda Health Information Network; Mozambique Health Information Network; Mobile Health Information System (South Africa)