A recent eHNA post described a range of eHealth definitions. It included Acfee’s, which extends eHealth to mHealth and a wide range of stakeholders that includes patients, carers and communities. A report in mHealth Intelligence says a study in the US found that mHealth initiatives for older people often neglect the role of, and benefits for, their carers. It’s an important finding for Africa’s mHealth for all patient groups.
This seems to have resulted in barriers to technology adoption for carers who see a lack of awareness, cost, and time. It’s more pronounced for carers aged over 49. Carers younger than this want to use mHealth more than their older peers.
Despite this, they’re clear on what they’d use mHealth for. It’s:
- mHealth that offers peace of mind’s their top priority
- Tools to ensure medications are managed accurately and easily
- Help to monitor a loved one
- Access to trusted online services and advice.
They also want mHealth that:
- Is based on integrated, interoperable, multi-faceted platforms that help them to coordinate tasks and disseminate appropriate information
- Isn’t too expensive and complex, so should be worth the investment of time and money, especially for mHealth that’s only useful rarely and in emergencies.
While these goals can be included in Africa’s health systems’ eHealth strategies, they need reinforcing in each mHealth project. One requirement needs health ministries to take direct action on standards. Moving mHealth into an interoperable and integrated setting needs a set of standards that extend across projects and into other eHealth initiatives, such as EHRs. As mHealth expands in Africa, this will become an increasing requirement. It’s better to start now.