The Trouble with mHealth…

With the potential to contribute to streamlining care and improving outcomes, mHealth is frequently referred to being a saviour of healthcare. So why are so few people talking about the roadblocks to effective mHealth? spoke to Christine Jacobs, founder of Digi-Bridges digital healthcare consultancy, about what is holding mHealth back and how stakeholders can address blocks to effective implementation.

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Is there a disconnect between the exploding commercial world of mHealth apps and the slower-moving worlds of healthcare and patients? If so, what has caused it?

In recent years, we have seen offer surpass demand in mHealth, meaning that there are more new app publishers every year than the number of app downloads. This slow adoption process is due to many barriers such as the digital divide, shortage of scientific evidence, limited integration in the healthcare system, and lack of clarity around regulatory and privacy issues to name a few.

Another thing to bear in mind is that several studies, both in developed and developing countries, showed that clinicians’ adoption is one of the most influential factors in such solutions’ success. In my research I focus on understanding clinicians’ adoption of mHealth, and when I ask them about the factors that impact their decision to adopt a specific mHealth tool, they sure mention technical factors such as app operation and stability, ease of use, usefulness, cost, and portability that play a major role in the adoption process. However, other social and organisational factors such as endorsement, neutrality of the content, attitude towards technology, existing workload and internal organisational politics are also perceived as key determinants of clinicians’ adoption. This shows that social and organisational factors are as important as technical ones, and providers should embrace these factors in their development process and go beyond technical usability tests to also include elements such as clinical workflow and overall treatment plans fit in order to be successful.