Learn about mHealth Capability

© 2008 Josh Nesbit, Courtesy of Photoshare

mHealth is capable of strengthening health programs in many ways. mHealth can help health administrators, program managers, and service providers capture, manage, share, store, collect, record, and exchange information. It can link service providers and health efforts to clients through reminders, key messages, referrals, and other kinds of life-changing health knowledge. In general, mHealth adds value to programs by supporting system, provider, and client processes. Examples include:

  1. Health systems strengthening: Mobile phone use can support data collection and program management tools, making a health system more efficient and effective. Magpi (formerly EpiSurveyor) is a mobile data collection system used in more than 170 countries worldwide. For example, the World Health Organization and Kenyan Health Ministry use Magpi to fight polio.
  1. Provider-centered programs: Mobile devices can improve provider knowledge and skills by facilitating access to education, training reinforcement, job aids, and peer learning networks. mHealth applications can also support provider supervision, reporting, and quality control efforts. For example, CommCare is a mobile phone-based platform that enables health workers to collect and send health data, manage case work, and access multimedia learning tools wirelessly.
  1. Client-centered programs: mHealth services can provide health information and support directly to clients or members of the general public via mobile phones. For example, the Mobile for Reproductive Health (m4RH) program is an opt-in system that provides users with evidence-based information on eight contraceptive methods and offers access to a clinic locator database—all via automated text messages.

Figure 1 builds on this breakdown by giving examples of mHealth capability across the system, provider, and client categories, and aligning each example to proposed health outcomes and impact.

Figure 1. mHealth Capability with Intended Outcomes 

Adapted from: Mitchell M, Labrique A. A logic model for mHealth Systems. Personal Communication 2013

Interested in more examples?

  • African Strategies for Health published six mHealth Compendiums that collectively feature more than 70 case studies documenting a range of mHealth applications implemented in Africa and elsewhere.