Partnership Development

Possible partners in an mHealth project are as diverse as the settings in which mHealth solutions are being implemented. They might include:

  • Local mobile network operators
  • Telecommunications groups
  • The consumer product industry
  • Pharmaceutical companies
  • Government
  • Non-governmental organizations
  • Academic institutions

Partnerships also encompass more informal networks, such as communities of practice or technical working groups. Ongoing participation in these networks fosters knowledge sharing and can help establish a successful mHealth pilot that leads to scale-up. Many factors can affect the development of partnerships, including funding, timing, technological capacity, and project scope.

Keep in mind that working with multiple partners—while important for a project’s viability and sustainability—can slow down the process. The more partners involved, the more likely confusion and challenges are to arise. It takes time to build and nurture productive partnerships—and to gather and integrate feedback from all stakeholders. It is important to establish a system for regular meetings and communications among partners. In addition, outside of your project, consider fostering community among all mHealth players in your country by starting an mHealth working group if one does not already exist. This will provide a forum for knowledge sharing and coordination among projects.

To spread awareness of these benefits and encourage support and participation, project managers can assist with the recruitment of champions for the program: charismatic advocates of a belief, practice, program, policy, or technology. Champions are well-respected opinion leaders in their communities whose passion, credibility, and persuasiveness allow them to successfully promote innovations.

The pages in this section of the Guide cover three important factors to consider when developing new partners:

  1. Incentives and drawbacks of each potential partnership
  2. Elements of successful private sector partnerships
  3. Timing

Additionally, the following publications offer valuable case studies, expert tips, and lessons learned on fostering successful mHealth partnerships:

For more resources on Partnership Development, please visit the Publications page of the Resources section.

KEY CONSIDERATIONS

  • Does the partner have both health staff and technology staff? (While not a necessity, it can be beneficial to work with an organization that has expertise in both realms of mHealth implementation.)
  • What is the partner’s level of in-house technical ability?
  • Will this partnership contribute to the sustainability of the mHealth project beyond the pilot?
  • Will this partnership increase the ability to apply the mHealth solution to multiple situations or goals in addition to the goal of this particular mHealth project?
  • Are the roles and responsibilities of each partner clearly defined and understood by all?
  • Describe the system you will use to communicate regularly with each partner.

THE EXPERTS SAY...

“[To foster sustainability], work with a partner who is in the community long-term. A main criterion for [choosing] partners is whether they will assure accountability to the community.” – Isaac Holeman, Medic Mobile

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References