In one pilot project in Aceh Besar, Indonesia, a group of midwives was provided with mobile phones and their use and experiences documented. Those midwives who were given the phones found them a "basic necessity." The main benefit was the ease of communication.
Midwives reported an increase in patient load because they could be contacted so easily. They also found they could get advice and information more readily, especially during emergencies, and could refer patients to the hospital when needed. Midwives were able to consult patients more often and provide a regular check of their condition, then enter the information into the patient's record, which could be updated and accessed via the mobile phone.
Infrastructure was a problem in remote areas where transmission was often poor, and where midwives were in greatest need. Lack of data in the local language also proved a barrier. Most midwives in the study learned how to use the technology readily, and said they planned to keep using the phones when the project ended.
Yet the promise comes with caveats and warnings about too much hype. One reason is the absence of controlled studies. "mHealth can really expand the capability of public health, in particular, but the potential for reaching UN MDGs 4 and 5 is yet to be realized," cautions Joan Dzenowagis, M.D. of the World Health Organization.
"Anecdotally, we can see the transformative effect," says Dr. Mechael, who, sponsored by the mHealth Alliance, has recently completed an analysis of 2,400 published mHealth reports. Working with WHO, she found that many countries either have already or are considering introducing mHealth into their he
|Contact: Marshall Hoffman|
Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health