Amanda Glassman of the Center for Global Development and Vicky Hausman of Dalberg Global Development Advisors write about the "elusive power of mHealth" (ie, mobile phones and technology for global health efforts, a hot field):
Yet despite these successes, mHealth remains in its infancy, with many of the characteristics and issues typical of young industries. The majority of deployments are still small-scale pilots, so much so that it’s been said there are more pilots in mHealth than there are in the US Air Force. In many of these pilots, the evidence base that would enable decision-making and prioritization for further investment is missing. Finally, mHealth tools are not always clearly linked to health systems’ needs and priorities, at times leaving solutions in search of a problem rather than products and services designed with end-user preferences and needs in mind.
Their five recommendations for moving forward:
- Invest in the evidence base.
- Align on standards and systems.
- Ground mobile and information and communications technology (ICT) strategies in country-level realities, needs and opportunities.
- Share learnings and best practices.
- Build a coalition of global health funders to improve coordination.