About mHealth Evidence

Mobile health, or mHealth, is broadly the use of mobile and wireless technologies to support the delivery and utilization of health care services. mHealth is a young field and a limited evidence base exists for demonstrating its efficacy, effectiveness and comparative effectiveness, especially its cost-effectiveness.

There are several compounding factors leading to this situation:

• The evidence that does exist is not necessarily readily available—some resides in peer-reviewed literature, but much of it also resides in grey literature including blog posts, presentations, mailing list discussions and other informal sources

• There is anecdotal evidence that well-written papers are not being accepted by health journals due to confusion from publishers about whether mHealth is a “health” or “IT” intervention

• Even when evidence is available, it is not always easy to gauge the strength of it

• The evidence base is growing rapidly and it is difficult for individuals to keep up-to-date

The lack of a well-understood, rigorous base of evidence for mHealth leads to several challenges:

• Ministries of Health, multilateral institutions and donors are unable to make informed decisions about which interventions warrant additional investment for research or implementation and scale-up

• Implementers are not sure which solutions and specific features to include in their programs to maximize effectiveness and produce the highest health impact

• Researchers have difficulty knowing where to focus their research efforts

The end result is reduced effectiveness and efficiency:

• Scarce human and financial resources may be wasted on interventions that have already been shown to be ineffective in improving health outcomes or not cost-effective

• Evidence-based activities may not receive the funding they deserve due to a lack of awareness regarding their efficacy or effectiveness

• Interventions may be of poor quality due to a failure to incorporate known best practices or to learn from past failures

Solution

In order to address the core challenge of a limited evidence base, the mHealth Evidence website was developed to be the leading resource for cataloging, categorizing and grading mHealth evidence. This site contains both peer-reviewed and grey literature on mHealth activities in developed and developing countries and is curated with sources proactively identified or included based on request. Material is classified using a harmonized taxonomy, scored using objective criteria, easily filtered and searchable to facilitate the identification of evidence-based, high-impact mHealth practices.