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Opportunities and Challenges of Adoption of mHealth Solutions

Mobile technologies are widely available and can play an important role in healthcare at the regional, community, and individual levels. mHealth opens up new avenues for doctors to make healthcare even more patient-centered, and to overcome difficulties posed by the location or timing of appointments. mHealth can improve patient care, treatment and safety for example through early disease diagnosis, improved patient compliance, and improved disease testing. m:lab East Africa hosted a meetup dubbed “Wireless Wednesday” on mHealth to discuss the opportunities and challenges for adoption of mHealth solutions in Kenya. Adoption of mobile health technologies may happen faster if and when healthcare organizations, telecom providers, app developers and other stakeholders in the health sector work together on legal and regulatory mandates and restrictions, system integration, and patient-centered research to bring costs down.

Participants during Wireless Wednesday meetup on mHealth

Participants during Wireless Wednesday meetup on mHealth

One of the factors accelerating adoption of mobile solutions in health is the rising healthcare cost. Mobile health solutions can reduce the cost of health care through remote monitoring of patients suffering from certain diseases, thus reducing the number of outpatient follow-up visits and also patients consulting on prevention hence fewer people have to visit a doctor or hospital. Other opportunities of adoption of mHealth solutions includes personalized healthcare. Many people are now practicing self-tracking, in which individuals measure and collect personal data to improve their health, monitor sleep, food intake, exercise, blood sugar and other physiological states and behaviors. In some cases, they are using the data to identify what triggers or worsens flare-ups of

chronic health disorders on their own, or with the help of an online community.

George Mwangi Sharing his thoughts during Wireless Wednesday Meetup on mHealth

George Mwangi Sharing his thoughts during Wireless Wednesday Meetup

Some of the challenges in the adoption of mobile technology in healthcare include confidentiality. Even as much as we are encouraging the use of mobile health, issues like confidentiality of patient information/data and diagnosis should be addressed. Patients will not be comfortable using any health application until they are assured of privacy and security protection. Mindset adjustment is another challenge where some patients and also physicians are used to the traditional healthcare system and it’s hard for them the embrace the new technologies in health. Also not all patients understand English and Kiswahili, in the rural areas the some of the patients and doctors communicate in their mother tongue. The patients should be empower with medical knowledge in everyday language.
Participants networking after Wireless Wednesday Meetup on mHealth

Participants networking after Wireless Wednesday Meetup

Lack of clear regulation and policies in the mHealth ecosystem is delaying the comprehensive and widespread of the use of technology in healthcare. There is the need for creation of policies and frameworks that encourage the development of innovative mHealth solutions and harmonize the regulation between the delivery of healthcare and mobile health services. mHealth brings more than new technologies. It facilitates a new way that enables health enterprises to engage patients, improve outcomes and lower costs. It’s clear that technology is giving the healthcare industry a much-needed upgrade, from medical translation tools to mobile apps that help patients live healthier lives.  

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