Tuesday, June 14, 2011

93 countries worldwide already offer mHealth services

93 countries around the world are offering at least one type of mHealth service, according to a new report published by the World Health Organization (WHO)

The four most frequently reported mHealth initiatives used by member states are: 
  • Health call centers (59%)
  • Emergency toll-free telephone services (55%)
  • Managing emergencies and disasters (54%)
  • Mobile telemedicine (49%)
The report - titled "mHealth: new horizons for health through mobile technologies" - indicates that the use of mobile and wireless technologies to support the achievement of health objectives (mHealth) has the potential to transform the face of health service delivery across the globe.

The authors note that change is driven by a powerful combination of factors including: rapid advances in mobile technologies and applications, a rise in new opportunities for the integration of mobile health into existing eHealth services, and the continued growth in coverage of mobile cellular networks. 

The WHO observes that health systems worldwide are under increasing pressure to perform under multiple health challenges, chronic staff shortages, and limited budgets, all of which makes choosing interventions difficult. 

The authors note that mHealth needs to adopt globally accepted standards and interoperable technologies, ideally using open architecture.

"Communication technologies would enhance efficiency and reduce cost," the WHO said. "To accomplish this, countries will need to collaborate in developing global best practices so that data can move more effectively between systems and applications. Moving towards a more strategic approach to planning, development, and evaluation of mHealth activities will greatly enhance the impact of mHealth." 

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